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The Millennium Falcon

The Millennium Falcon

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Project Blog by skodamarine

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About the Project

I am going to make a Millennium Falcon scenery set to use with Star Wars Legion figures, that includes internal rooms and corridors. I aim to show that with a bit of imagination and skill great results can be gotten on a limited budget.

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A Dirty Undercarriage

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The legs and underside need messing up a bit to look like the dirty and grungy Millenium Falcon

First I managed to find some of the old time of plastic bendy straw. These are quite rightly no longer sold in the UK due to the environmental damage they cause, but my local gaming pub let me have a few they still had. I cut these down to add corrugated pipes to the legs – note that my earlier trick of filling paper straws with hot glue to strengthen them does not work with these as the plastic straws will just melt. Instead they are packed with the unused straw offcuts, with just a blog of hot glue on each end to fix them in place. I

Some of the paper straws I had left are used as sleeves to reinforce the straight sections of the plastic straws, and to wrap around any of the pencil woods I used earlier that I think will look better round than hexagonal. Then all the new material is primed black, and using a make-up brush Drybrushed mid-grey to bring it into line with what I’ve already painted.

I also added some dark shadow to the recesses of the hull while I had a black primer paint brush in my hand. I use flat red and sick green (valehjo paints) to add warning lights and stop the hull being featureless – the colours are subdued due to dumbfounded overblack, as I don’t want them too prominent from a distance.

The pistons on the legs and ramp are Drybrushed gunmetal grey, stippled with rust effect and bronze paint, then given “scratches” with a shinier natural steel paint (logically these “scratches” should run vertically, but quick horizontal lines always seem to look better).

Typhus corrosion is a GW technical paint I have never used before, but I had some (I think it came free with a partswork magazine) and it work well at adding grunge and texture to the bottom of the legs and leading edges of the side s of the hull. I just stippled off in with an old brush (which the paint finally killed off – don’t use your finest sable brushes with this stuff!)

Finally I use black paint to add shadow where the pistons meet the hull.

Now the ship has a dirty, shadowy underside and a bit more grungy dirt ingrained on it's leading edges of the hull.Now the ship has a dirty, shadowy underside and a bit more grungy dirt ingrained on it's leading edges of the hull.

a few better pics....

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As I’ve raided the bitz box to add some details to the insides, and given some of the internal engine parts their first coat of blue to match the outside engine glow, I thought I would blow the dust off my laptop and take some better quality pics than is possible on my tablet. The ships not finished, but I’m getting there now.

The main parts of the ship stucture are nearly done now, but there’s still a lots of detailing left to do in order to hide rough edges and add interest.

THe next couple of entries will be some more work on the legs, and then seeing if my plan for installing really cheap but effective lighting will actually work.

 

a few better pics....
a few better pics....

The internal floors

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Next up is the simple but messy & time consuming stage where the cardboard floors and corridors get upgraded to look like metal mesh.

first make.paper to templates of all the flooring and corridors to be covered remembering that the paper needs to be able to lie absolutely flat.

I had picked.up 2 a4 sheets of plastic mesh from a local craft shop, the sort used to sew tappestries. As they are white I prime.these and then paint one side black with spray paint. Spray paint adheres much better to this kind of plastic than brushed on paint. Once dry I make the mesh flooring pieces by cutting around the paper templates with scissors and gluing them in place with a thick gel superglue. I use rubber topped pencils to push the mesh down in place, rather than my fingers, as some glue will leak through the holes in the mesh. Once dry the black.paint is touched up.by brush where the glue has seeped through.

The mesh is then Drybrushed with gun metal grey to pick out the pattern and give it a metallic look. I chose the top left  corner of each mesh panel to get highlughted with natural steel, and the bottom right corner to get painted with rust effect (all valehjo paints). This makes each panel distinct from.it’s neighbouring floor panels and helps the ship look old and rusty.

The final metalic look of the flooring achieved.The final metalic look of the flooring achieved.

There will actually be 2 stages after this, but I won’t photograph those as they shouldn’t look any different.

Firstly, once everything is dry I will cost all the mesh flooring in a generous coating of yacht varnish. Not only will this stop mini’s bases scraping the paint off the plastic.mesh, it will help seal the mesh to the card layer below and fill any loose edges the super glue may have missed.

Then I will redo all the rust areas left too shiny by the varnish, as rust should be Matt to look realistic.

The Engines strike back... (Engines part two).

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Having done the engine glow yesterday, now t that is dry I can do the rear mesh that covers the engine. In the films it looks to just be very simple upright struts, but I’m going to take a little artistic license with the design.

I had some plastic tops from a dehumidifier tub (the ones that use chemicals that pull water from the air) that I had been saving as airbrush stencils. I decide to add some of the oval mesh to add interest, as well as the expected upright struts (made from GW sprue peices) and some side pieces to make it look better where The blue glow of engines meet the side of the ship.

 

Test fitting the struts.Test fitting the struts.
The side pieces are cut from the sides of the dehumidifier mesh.The side pieces are cut from the sides of the dehumidifier mesh.
It's easier to paint the mesh, then cut it out.It's easier to paint the mesh, then cut it out.

The arts are prepared black, given a coat of Matt varnish (so they will contrast with the gloss varnished blue engine glow) and once dry are superglued in place.

I use more of the prices cut from the sides of the dehumidifier tub tops to wrap around the sprue struts – this ensures that the mesh cannot come loose over time.

I’m pretty happy with the look of the rear engines now, and will move into doing the internal floors next.

The Engines strike back... (Engines part two).
The Engines strike back... (Engines part two).

Start your engines....

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Although my Millenium Falcon is landed with it’s feet and ramp down, I have decided to paint the back of the ship to show the engines fired up – may be the engine is being turned over prior to take off!  The engines are normally shown as blue (except in Bespin, where they glow pink for some reason) so I planned to use my airbrush to create the graduated blue flash going to near white in the centre.

The paints I used for the engine glowThe paints I used for the engine glow
OMasking tape is used to protect the already painted hull.OMasking tape is used to protect the already painted hull.
Initially all looked well....Initially all looked well....
Blue paint had leaked under the masking tapeBlue paint had leaked under the masking tape

I had a few problems with the palest ice blue and white paints. They were both very thick paints, and I had to use a lot of thinner to get them to go through my airbrush. They were so thin that instead of staying where sprayed unknown to me they ran down the sides of the painted hull.

this is not that major a problem – there are few problems with paint that cannot be rectified with a bit more paint.

To finish the blue engine glow I stippled on the central white stripe with a brush, then once this had dried went over the edges of the white with an electric blue airbrushed paint layer to graduate the white edges. To get rid of the blue streaks on the hull I used chocolate brown (as it covers well on first coat) then once it was dry merged this into the existing paintwork on the hull with a light drybrushing of bone white, followed by a lighter drybrushing of off white on raised edges that would catch the light. I also added a brown shadow to the underside of the rear engine flaps. Problem solved.

Start your engines....
The final engine glow.The final engine glow.

As a precaution against further mishaps I have given the engine glow a quick thin coat of yacht varnish, which will also give it a nice glossy sheen as well as protecting the paint.I

Once the varnish is dry I will be able to make the covering mesh that should finish the engines off nicely.

Yet more painting on the top hull

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This is really the end of the previous entry, seems there is a limit to how much content can go in one entry and I must have reached the limit.

Anyway, after using a grey wash on the top hull yesterday, today I tidied it up and got rid of the inevitable tide marks. I use an off white to dull down any strident colours that are too vivid and add edge highlighting where I think any sharp edges would catch the light.  When painting individual panels on the hill instead of adding solid.blocks of colour I blend outwards from.one corner to graduate the original colour. It is important to repeat this process in the sides of the ship so the whole ship looks uniform, although I let more of the Sepia remain on the front and rear the engines where I think the ship would be dirtier.

By adding the white like this I am still allowing each individual panel to be a slightly different colour, but from a distance the ship looks nearer to the overall colour of the original ship in the films. Probably I will continue tweaking the colours of hull panels whenever I am painting other things.

More painting and details...

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In this update I am going to group together a few little things I had to do to add vital details and correct a few little niggling things that have been bothering me.

First up is the turret gun. I don’t know if it was a design fault, if my be built top hull is higher than the original was, or if a part is missing, but the turret gun drops too low – shot in that position it would blow a hole in the ship. I simply glue a piece of shaped sprue into place to stop the gun dropping down too low. I could have just glued it into a fixed position, but I quite like the fact the gun can move and wanted to keep that.

I add a bit rust. I don’t want to go too overboard with this, after all this is supposed to be the fastest ship in the galaxy and shouldn’t look like it will drop apart if it goes too fast. But as a neglected and dirty ship inevitably there would be a few bits of rust here and there. I add rust in the inner corner between the cockpit and the main hull (as a man who has had many old second-hand cars, this is surely the spot where rust would appear and make the Falcon eventually fail it’s space MOT). I reason the inner airlock doors might get a lot of condensation on them, so add rust here aswell. I had already plainted the corridor to the turrets and the inner airlock the same base colour as the hull, so they can be seen against the other dark details.

My method for adding rust is to stipple on a rust effect paint (I use valehjo rust air, but applied with a old brush), then once dry stippled over it with the original colour you were covering to feather the edges of the rust. Rinse &  repeat until you are happy with how the rust looks.

 

It was very important to me that the ship has Chewie’s halo chess table, and luckily the original toy spaceship still had this part. I cut the base down (so it’s not to scale, but as close as I can get it) and just painted the outer rim. The chequered chess board is the original sticker that I have vanished over to protect. At the moment it is just pinned in place, so I can still remove it while doing the floors later.

The cockpit roof gets some red and green display lights painted on – I paint similar lights in the rest of the ship where there are any molded details showing.

More painting and details...

I found a resin ladder I had bought for another project. Although moulded as a fantasy wooden ladder, it looks suitably sci-fi painted black then Drybrushed with gun metal grey. Again, not glued in place yet as I may decide to paint the tube it is in to add more detail, but the dark ladder stands out well against the light background, which is more reminiscent of the film than my original colours where.

More painting and details...

Having dulled down the bright pipes and wiring yesterday, I highlight their top edges today so they stand out against the darker walls and corridors. This may seem like a waste of time, but now the pipes have some shadow and look grimy on their undersides, while giving me that almost cartoon look of a cut-away diagram of a spaceship that I have decided I want. I’m not building a realistic diorama but a fun wargaming peice, so people have to be able to tell from a distance what each area of the ship is – without re-highlighting the pipes they just merged too much into the background. I also drybrushing surfaces that are supposed to be metal with gun metal grey – this is a vallejo paint that gives a darker finish than the natural steel I normally use.

More painting and details...

Starting painting the internal rooms, and changing the top hull colour balance

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Starting the internal rooms.

The first thing I did was look at some images from the star wars films, to remind myself what couples the top inside your f the Millenium Falcon really was. Memory alone can play tricks on you. I am going to use the to decide on the feel I want, not slavishly follow the colour scheme.

What I take away from the source photos is that the insides of The Falcon are dark and dirty – the cushioned areas area sort of buff colour, and there are indicator lights everywhere.

First I prime the insides of the ship black.

I like the sharp contrast between the black and the outside hull, so I’ll be keeping that at the edges. But black is too dark to easily see the walls and layout from a distance, so I drybush everything with a neutral grey. This also brings out the textures that I added earlier.

Now I take some artistic license and go away from the film’s colour scheme, as I need the wiring and pipes I created to stand out from the background so they can be seen from a distance. I used dark shades of primary colours, and later when I think they look too bright I dull the down with black shade (GW Nulin oil). This also helps the engineering and engine areas look dirty and oily.

Cushioning is painted chocolate brown, then Drybrushed with sucessively lighter colours until I work up to an edge highlight of bonewhite. Metal is Drybrushed with gun metal grey, and a few big bits of machinery painted cavalry Brown and weathered with rust effect paint and a bone drybrush. By no means finished, but now I can see what colours things are going to be and where I need t make changes.

Hopefully I have hit the right balance between capturing the mood of the film’s while having a piece of playable scenery that detail can be made out on from a distance – the true film colours would just be too dark and everything would merge into one dark mass.

 

I’ll add a few photos of the painting going thru the stages described above:

 

Changing the top hull colour balance

I am a bit concerned the the top Hull is looking too yellow from a distance. To fix this I use a very thin wash of 1 part sky grey paint To about 10 parts water, and apply this to some of the panels on the roof to town down any colours I think are too vivid and give them a cool grey cast. I also use this on some of the side details, just to pull everything together.

 

It may not show very well on the photos, but this pulls the ship into looking more grey from a distance.

Radar Dish and gun

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Next up, it’s time to work on the radar dish and gun that I saved from the original toy. The radar dish is the square one from The Last Jedi, so I decide to change this to the more traditional round dish using a Lego part I had left over from another project. I don’t have a problem with the Last Jedi film like some people seem to have, it’s just that I don’t want to fix my ship into that very short time period when the dish was square.

The parts I started with.The parts I started with.

I use a cut down superglue top to make the central cone in the dish, and card to fill in the holes in the Lego part. I’ll be reusing the original base as that slots nicely into the hull, so why reinvent the wheel? I use a Dremel to cut away the square dish, leaving the base intact and shaped so the round Lego piece fits well.

After priming black, they are painted and ready to add to the top hull. The gun just needs a bit of drybrushing with grey on the top, the dish gets painted the same way the hull was, with some rust added as old tv dishes always seem to get a bit of rust on them.

View from the frontView from the front
View from the back View from the back

Wires and Texture

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To simulate the Millenium Falcon’s knotted tangle.of wiring, I carefully glue in place actual wire. I use a 2 m telephone extention I would have never used again in this wireless age (It is very flexible, and has a flat side, so easy to glue in place). I wanted a real tangle in the engine room and the 2 triangular work I be areas at the front of the ship, but I don’t want actual loops that will snag on things and get torn off. I also want figures to be able to enter these areas, so my solution is to glue the tangled wiring to the floor, so miniatures can walk on top of the wiring (probably having to make an electrocution saving throw unless they are Han, Cheque and maybe Rey).

When the telephone extention run out, I used the inner wiring from some heavy 30amp wire offcuts an electrician left at my house. As a bonus, I realised that the grey wire sleeving could be used to make those iconic cushion pads that the Falcon has on its corridors. I also use it to make pillows for the bed and the seating area, to add some consistency to the different parts of the ship.

 

To get rid of any areas of large grey card before painting the insides, I cover the grey card walls with a bobbly clear plastic sheeting I found from somewhere – I guess it is intended to add grip to car dashboards. It probably doesn’t show up to great in the photos, being clear, but I am hoping it will give the walls a patterned metal look when primed and drybrushed. (I leave the floors as plain card, as I have something else planned for those later.)

Texturing finally done.... Now the insides of the ship are ready to paint.Texturing finally done.... Now the insides of the ship are ready to paint.

The Airlock internal.doors

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The inside of the airlocks (The round bits above the ramp and on the opposite side of the ship) are bothering me. There is no detailing on the inside, and have no width to them. This is easily solved….

I find 2 round spice tub lids, that fit into the airlock perfectly. I use the circular inner seal as a.template for my card peices.I find 2 round spice tub lids, that fit into the airlock perfectly. I use the circular inner seal as a.template for my card peices.
2 half circles of card are glued on, leaving a gap down the middle, to represent the airlocks inner doors. To just add a bit of detail, I glue on a.small button to represent the doors lock..2 half circles of card are glued on, leaving a gap down the middle, to represent the airlocks inner doors. To just add a bit of detail, I glue on a.small button to represent the doors lock..

Straws and toys

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As the Millenium Falcon has many jury rigged repairs heaped on top of heath Robinson lash ups, it shouldn’t look too neat and tidy. I also don’t want too much unstructured cardboard left before painting, as it won’t look very realistic.

To simulate the ship’s many power conduits I use paper straws. But surely, draws are too fragile and easily crushed you are probably thinking….. Not when they are filled with hot glu e and allowed to set.  I promise you, this project was not sponsored by a bit glue manufacturer – but when you are looking for a solution, and happen to have a bit glue gun in your hand….

A word of caution though. Hot glue is, well, very hot, and it needs to be very hot to run down into a straw. If doing this don’t let the glue run straightening through the straw and out onto your tender skin, as it will cause blisters, welts or worse. It can be advisable to use tweezers to hold the straws!

It is best to mitre the joints sure the straws meet as closely as posible. Any gaps can be covered by making a sleeve –  just cut a straw lengthwise, but it to shape, then glue it over the original straws. It should just pop on, like miniature pipe lagging.

I continue adding straws, as well as s some parts cut from cheap plastic toys bought from a pound store for this purpose. Also left over bits from the original toy spaceship are repurposed and stuck in place to add details. I have to careful to not block any walkways, while trying to make the ship look as cluttered and messy as possible. So, lots of straws in corners where they won’t interfere with miniatures on circular bases, but none where they would narrow corrridors too much.

All this adds details and texture to the surfaces that should make my painting and drybrushing look much better – Grey card is a great building material, but it doesn’t look particularly great painted so it has to be covered with other texture before priming.

Some of the horizontal straws are placed to give added support to the roof in places where it was just floating without support previously. It was only when I started adding these that realised how important they would be to make the roof nice and firm when on top of the ship.

 

Starting on the internal rooms

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Now I start on the most important part of this build for wargaming – building the internal rooms. If the ship is too open-planned there is no interest in the terrain – without cover it is just mini’s shooting at each other. I’m envisioning cat and mouse games of infantry miniatures sneaking around the ship and taking shots when they can, so I need rooms that aren’t just dead ends with different ways in and out. And on top of that, I want it to contain the elements I remember from watching star wars as a kid.

It is impossible to make the actual layout of the Millenium Falcon – the outside hull props and internal sets were built for the films were  different sizes – the rooms literally are too big to fit inside the smaller hull.

 

I build the rooms walls using a similar method to how I levelled the floors – a card framework covered in grey card and filled with lightweight  filler.

Starting on the internal rooms

Revisiting the rebuilt hull

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I wasn’t happy with how the re-built hull (where the nerf gun used to be in the ship) tuned out. I picked up some styrene stips from my local model shop (I can’t call them tubes as they ‘re rectangular in cross section – but you get the idea) and glued these on, removing any excess grey card with a sharp knife. Note I used superglue –  not glue would have just melted the styrene. I glued on some metal wire, making sure these joined up with some of the “wiring” moulded into the rest of the plastic hull, to pull the two areas together.

Painting this rebuilt area to match the rest of the ship proved problematic. I painted the new wife and styrene with white primer, then repeated the stages I had used previously to paint rest of the ship. The wire blended in ok, but the styrene was too flat and smooth for drybrushing to work well in it – in the end I stippled on sepia shade and then once this was dry stippled on the lighter colours instead of drybushing. It’s Not a perfect match for the previous colours, but no doubt I will be tweaking that but of painting as I go on to try to make the match close hit

I hit some panels of the hull with light grey, to lower the intensity of some of the Sepia shade and appease any star-wars-grognars who think the ship should be grey (I think the falcon is really white and just discoloured by whatever dirt and grime is costing it currently- I’ve been aiming for a dirty off white).

 

Subtly Drybrushed and blended with white grey,  to knock back the Sepia tone on the top hull slightly.Subtly Drybrushed and blended with white grey, to knock back the Sepia tone on the top hull slightly.

Finally, I add soot trails behind the circular heat vents using my airbrush. I’m not sure why soot would not just blow out into the vacuum of space, but it’s part of the iconic look of Han’s ship. That’s the first time I’ve used an airbrush on this model.

The Cockpit

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If I was making a diorama, then I would sculpt chairs for the cockpit, and reposition some minis so they were sitting in them. But I am making wargame terrain,for upright minis on 27mm bases. I envision scenarios where the falcon can only take off once 2 figures are in the cockpit to fly the ship. So essentially I am going to make a movement tray to fit in the cockpit.

The new floor of the cockpit is cut out of hardboard.The new floor of the cockpit is cut out of hardboard.
Shaped to fit...Shaped to fit...
Holes for the miniatures based are drilled out with a 25mm drill. Unfortunately Legion infantry bases are 27mm, so I have to make the holes bigger with a half round wood file.Holes for the miniatures based are drilled out with a 25mm drill. Unfortunately Legion infantry bases are 27mm, so I have to make the holes bigger with a half round wood file.
The original toy's  dashboard is now way too big...The original toy's dashboard is now way too big...
...so has to be cut down in size, making sure the top of the cockpit will still close....so has to be cut down in size, making sure the top of the cockpit will still close.
Pretty happy with this so far. An arch made from 3 layers of greyboard is glued in at the back, to make the doorway into the cockpit.Pretty happy with this so far. An arch made from 3 layers of greyboard is glued in at the back, to make the doorway into the cockpit.

Using the same technique I used earlier, I create a flat floor for the corridor to the cockpit and a step down to get to the central corridor. A frame made of grey card is glued in place, filled with lightweight filler, then topped with more Grey card.

The inside of the cockpit is primed blavk, Drybrushed mid-grey, then a few quick details added – a brown steering wheel, red and green indicators on The dashboard. The detailing is nowhere near finished, but I’ve got the structure of the cockpit in place. A bit more painting is done on the cockpit cannopy – bare plastic was left where I had to protect the clear perspex with masking tape when priming the rest of the hull.

Finishing the hull painting

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Yesterday I weathered the hull with Sepia shade to give the ship a dirty and old look.

Today I Drybrushed the hull to knock back the brown of the Sepia shade and to add a bit of detail to the underside.

My weapons of choice for today's drybrushing. Make-up brushes are perfect for drybrushing larger items, and the margarine lies are used as pallets - I use the time to remove excess paint from the brushes.My weapons of choice for today's drybrushing. Make-up brushes are perfect for drybrushing larger items, and the margarine lies are used as pallets - I use the time to remove excess paint from the brushes.

Now I add coloured panels to the top hull to break up the base colour – 5 minutes on the internet gives you 100 versions of how the authentic Falcon was painted – so these inform my placing of the panels and their colours, but I use some artistic license to paint it now I think it will look best.

The paints I used to paint the coloured panels. 2 thin costs of the watered down darker base colour, then overpainted with the lighter shade letting the darker shade show at the edges. Then firebrand aged with the 2 off-white shades.The paints I used to paint the coloured panels. 2 thin costs of the watered down darker base colour, then overpainted with the lighter shade letting the darker shade show at the edges. Then firebrand aged with the 2 off-white shades.
The circular heat vents and the deeper recesses are shaded with GW nulin oil to take their colours towards black.The circular heat vents and the deeper recesses are shaded with GW nulin oil to take their colours towards black.

Painting the Hull

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There are one of two things I would have liked to get finished first, but as we are going through a spell of unseasonally warm dry weather, I decided to take advantage of this while I can and paint the hull using aerosol paint before the winter rain or snow returns. Primer from a can always seems to bond better to plastic toys than primer applied with an airbrush indoors, so I think it was worth doing this while the weather allows even though I will have to repaint a few things later.

All the bare plastic is primed with a Matt grey primer.All the bare plastic is primed with a Matt grey primer.

1- all bare plastic is primed with a grey plastic primer. This will give a good key for subsequent layers of paint to adhere to.

2- the underside is sprayed black. As I am intending this to be shadow, I used a Matt black instead of gloss.

3- the top hull and any edges that would catch the light are dusted with a satin white paint.

 

Once everything is dry the next day I set about making the ship look less pristine and white – the Millenium Falcon is supposed to look like a heap of junk. A crisp white finish just looks wrong.

I use vallejo sepia shade to age and weather the hull. I literally apply the shade to sections of the hull, then leave it for a minute or so before removing the excess with an absorbent kitchen towel.  This leaves the shade in the recesses and pockets where dirt would accumulate on a smugglers spaceship, and tints the white paint sepia. As I used satin white paint the shade can be wiped off while there being enough grip the stain the flat area of white. Gloss paint wouldn’t have been tinted enough by the shade, and Matt paint would have held too much of the shade.

Painting the Hull

Later, I will tidy up the hull and pick out some details by drybrushing the top hull with white paint, and the underside with a dark grey, but at the moment I am pretty happy with how the ship is progressing.

Finishing the legs and ramp

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A friend of mine pointed out that the original Millenium Falcon model made for the films was made from wood with bits of old tiger tank kits glued to it, so I’m feeling a little better about having decided to make the legs out of wood.

The sled bottoms of the legs are made by using wood glue to fix 2 cut prices of wood together, and reinforcing this with veneeer pins – anything thicker might cause the wood to split. Care has to be taken to make sure no pins are where the wood will need drilling.

Screws of the right length are selected, and I’m using the biggest washers that will fit in the space to make sure the screw head cannot pull through the laminate. I use the actual points of the screws to mark where the wooden legs need drilling. That way things should line up exactly. I use the hot glue gun again to fix the legs in place, and a screwdriver to tighten the screws in place – it’s best not to use a powered screwdriver for this as it is easy to over tighten the screws and split the wood.

After checking I am.happy with the height of the legs and the clearance left for the ramp, I decided to add struts to make the legs less “blocky”. These also help to reinforce the legs and ensure they don’t move – the back legs have 2screws each so are pretty much set in place,  but the front legs have only one screw each and they could rotate on this like a spindle if the glue ever fails.

For these struts I used pencils cut to size with a razor saw. Pencils have 2 but advantages over dowling for jobs like this.

1- they are a lot cheaper. A big bag of cheap drawing pencils from your local pound shop will be fine, but dowel is very expensive and can only be bought in long lengths.

2-if you use hexagonal pencils you get a nice flat edge that makes gluing then to things much easier.

Their disadvantage is that you get powdered graphite powder when you cut them, which can cause a  mess if you don’t clear it is as you go.

I’m happy with how the struts add to the silhouette of the legs, and will look good once painted.

 

Finally today I finish the ramp. I had initially planned something more complicated, and had wanted to be able to have figures placed on the ramp. But I realised that to have the angle of the ramp shallow enough to allow this I would have to vastly extend the length of the ramp so it stuck out beyond the edge of the ship, and that just wouldn’t look like the falcon’s ramp.

I take the price of the lower hull it out and saved previously, and reinforce it with 3 layers of grey card. This will strengthen everything, and also mean I have a much larger surface area to glue to the ship.

 

 

Finishing the legs and ramp

Once the ramp is glued to the ship and angled to meet the floor, I use pencils again to form the hydraulic supports on each side of the ramp. A few pieces of card finish things off to add a bit of texture that can be picked out later with a bit of drybrushing.

Decisions about Falcon legs....

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I need to decide on The height of the new legs. They need to be tall enough to let The ramp open, and let people place figures on the ramp when playing a wargame. And if we are to be accurate to the films, short enough so a wookie has to duck down when walking up the ramp.

The ship as it is is too low to let a ramp open properly.The ship as it is is too low to let a ramp open properly.
This height should be around right - adding about 3cm to the bottom of the existing legs moulded into the bottom hull.This height should be around right - adding about 3cm to the bottom of the existing legs moulded into the bottom hull.

Now, given I am only extending the existing stump legs by around 3cm, I have to decide how they should look. I remember how the legs on the kenner Millenium Falcon looked when I was a kid, with pipework and hydraulics. I even priced some up on ebay, but decided they were too expensive, especially as I will have to weaken them by cutting them down to size.

Another option would have been to 3d print something, but I don’t have access to that technology yet and I am not sure how strong 3d printed legs would be. Some 3d printed items seem to be made in “layers” rather than one solid piece, and those layers sometimes come apart from each other. 3d printing is probably the future of wargaming minis,  but not something I know enough about yet to really pass on any knowledgeable opinions.

Given that the new legs will only be about 3cm tall, they are going to be mostly hidden the shadow of the ship, I think I might get away with just using some solid wooden shapes that I can screw into the flooring laminate I have added to the hull. This should be strong, and I can always add some surface details later to make them look more like the hydraulic legs of my kenner childhood Falcon. I briefly toyed with the idea of making thin shapes out of dowling glued together,  but I need a core block of wood that is wide enough that I can attach it to the hull with a wood screw and washer.

 

 

A scratch-builder's s interlude....

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Skill 2
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I have got to a stage where I can dispose of much of the gubbins I stripped out from inside the ship, knowing I will no longer need it. But rather than just throwing it away, I use a Dremel to remove any bits with warship details moulded into it that I might be able to reuse later….

This huge piece is no longer any use to the ship... It used to hold a pivoting seat for a 5This huge piece is no longer any use to the ship... It used to hold a pivoting seat for a 5" action figure
But I manage to cut a computer bank and a doorway out of it using my dremel. They may come in useful later in this build, or just get out into my bits box to use later on something else.But I manage to cut a computer bank and a doorway out of it using my dremel. They may come in useful later in this build, or just get out into my bits box to use later on something else.

Starting on the legs

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The legs are going to be problematic.

The toy had very shallow legs moulded into the bottom hull that are not fall enough to let a ramp open properly. I fill in a lot of recessed screw holes with filler. When I gingerly drill pilot holes where I want the legs to go I realise just how thin and weak the plastic is on the bottom of the ship – I need to strengthen this in some way, or adding legs is just going to snap the ship in two.

 

 

 

Starting on the legs

I remove the lightweight filler I put into the leg decreases yesterday, and replace it with traditional wall filler which will be much stronger once dried.  I don’t have easy access to metal plates, and don’t really wAnt to take up all the free space putting a wooden frame inside the ship. As I am renovating my house I found some offcuts of laminate flooring that is very strong while being relatively thin. I cut some shapes out of this to fit snuggly in the floor recesses above where the legs have to go.

Once the laminate flooring is fitted I glue it in place with lots of not glue.  I leave this overnight to set solid.

Starting on the legs

More work on Rebuilding the roof

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I rebuild the from of the ship using layers of grey card. One of the reasons I got this toy ship so cheap on eBay was that this part of the ship was missing – it should have had flaps that closed over where the nerf gun used to pop up.

The roof is rebuilt using layers of grey card welded together with hot glue. To get the slope I want I make each layer slightly lower than the one below it ( like an Aztec pryamid) then fill in the stepped slope with filler.The roof is rebuilt using layers of grey card welded together with hot glue. To get the slope I want I make each layer slightly lower than the one below it ( like an Aztec pryamid) then fill in the stepped slope with filler.

Next I have to glue the circular turret gun housing back in place – easier said than done as I have removed a lot of the structure it used fit into.

Not pretty, but filling any big gaps with a card frame, my hot glue gun comes to the rescue yet again. I can tidy this up once I get the ship's room walls built and I can see how much space space I have to play with.Not pretty, but filling any big gaps with a card frame, my hot glue gun comes to the rescue yet again. I can tidy this up once I get the ship's room walls built and I can see how much space space I have to play with.
Not too, bad... I have to cut away some struts and card to let the roof sit flat again with the bottom of the round turret taking up more space than I expected.Not too, bad... I have to cut away some struts and card to let the roof sit flat again with the bottom of the round turret taking up more space than I expected.

Getting the roof ship shape

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Then first task today was sealing any rough edges from yesterday with grey card. There a few areas of bare filler showing, but they should be covered by the corridor floor panels later.

Getting the roof ship shape

After that it was important to start on the roof of the falcon. I need this fitting nicely so I can see how high the walls dividing the internal space into rooms can be. I created a card ledge about half a centimetre wide around the hull of the ship, so the roof can sit on this without any bit gaps showing. The Dremel cutting disc is about 1mm wide so some gaps can’t be avoided, but the ledge should help stop light showing through these too badly.

I added some card panels to the edges of the roof, to disguise where I cut it out. I needed to add some.other panels in random places so the whole roof looks the same, and this should add some extra texture and variation in panel height once painted. I figure every time the Falcon takes blaster damage Chewie would just weld on another panel to repair the hole, so the panels could be overlapping in places.

I also started the process of filling in the large hole left when I removed the unwanted nerf gun. I build up a lattice of grey card, and this should be quite strong once the hot glue sets solid overnight. Then I will be able to start rebuilding the front section of the roof without fear of it collapsing under it’s own weight.

Filling the large hole  where the nerf gun used to be should also give some much needed strength to the front roof area.Filling the large hole where the nerf gun used to be should also give some much needed strength to the front roof area.
Getting the roof ship shape

Finally, I have a quick trial fit of the roof to make sure if still fits nicely on the hull after I added the card ledge for it to sit on.

Getting the roof ship shape

Fixing problems

Tutoring 5
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It is always good to check what you did the previous day in the morning…

I’m not building an accurate diorama that perfectly recreates the Millenium Falcon in miniature. I’m building a wargaming price that represents it, and it has to be fun to play wargames in. That means my star wars legion figures have to be able to fit easily into The spaces and passageways I’m making.

 

So, I made some mistakes yesterday.

In order to keep the nice circular shape of the central corridor I made the path leading to the right hand airlock too narrow – I wanted the corridor to be single-file narrow, but it needs to be slightly wider than an Star Wars Legion infantry base.

And the preformed arches, while looking good, stop you from placing a figure in them. Also the circular arch need the cockpit is taking up too much space where the ramp has to go.

 

 

Darn.... Problems.Darn.... Problems.

The corridors widened easily enough by adding a small cardboard “retaining wall” and filling that frame with more filler.

Cutting back the arches is more worrying, as once they are cut there is no changing my mind. I’m going to try to cut them so they match the shape of the wedge of hull above them…..  But “I have a bad feeling about this”….

….But it worked out fine.

The archway are more like wedge shaped crossesections in one of those books showing cutaways of stars Wars vehicles now. But my wookie and storm trooper are finding it much easier to move around the ship without banging their heads.

I’ve cut out the hole for the ramp, which will also give me better access to the space behind the cockpit that I still need to tidy up. The cut out piece will become the bottom of the sloping ramp – I cut it so about a centimetre of the sloping bull bottom is still attached to the edges – this helps make the access hole a bit wider, and the ramp a bit more rigid than a flat 2d shape would have been.  Nobody likes a floppy ramp.

My Wookie and storm trooper inform me that it is Life Day tomorrow, so they want to down tools and go to the space pub to celebrate, so I’ll sign off and get back to work after the holiday.

Have a great Christmas folks.

Putting it back together...

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When rebuilding something like this, there is a balance between what you want to do, and what is sensible. I decided to put the 2 grey plastic inserts back in their original position so they could strengthen the now quite flimsy hull, and act as supportable the removable roof later. I did cut the backs off them so they will now act as doorways to the rest of the ship instead of being alcoves. As I fix elements into the ship, I also cut away any plastic supports that are no longer needed with a dremmel, then smoothing down with a file and then sandpaper.

Next I rebuilt the side walls of the falcon. This involved cutting the top half of the walls away from the top half of the hull. A hot glue gun turned out to be the best way to fix this in place, as it also can be used to fill voids and gaps, and when dry adds some strength to the hull. The sections with the cockpit and the round docking hatches are cut into a shape that will cover the top of the previously fixed grey inserts. I decided to leave a “lip” of hull round the top edges of the walls, as I want the ship to be recognisable as the Millenium Falcon even when the lid is removed.

I’m quite glad with the way the curved corridor to the cockpit is shaping up – I consider that quite an iconic part of Han Solo’s ship so I wanted to include that in my model.

The next thing I feel any Millenium Falcon needs is a central tube leading to the guns, and a circular passageway around that. This is done using some thick cardboard tubes and grey board hot glued into place. I make a cardboard frame to support the walkway, and lightweight filler is used to.fill that frame before gluing on a.cardboard top. It doesn’t need to be a perfect fit, as later stages should cover up.any small gaps. I decided to raise the corridor not only to give a nice flat surface for my figures to stand on, but also so the central column could drop down deeper as if descending to the bottom hull gun. I’m quite keen to have lots of changes in level, as I think this will make the finished model feel like a cramped freighter with the rooms shoe horned in between the mechanics of the ship.

Grey card is quite strong, especially if layered, but the lightweight filler is important as it ensures he eventual shapes are solid and can’t cope or crease. For the time being I’m adding “vital ekements” – later I will decide on the layout of other rooms when I see how much space is left. I decided on a half-circular corridor, rather than fully encircling the central pillar, to save space. I can always add the other half of the corridor later if I decide if will fit.

(Grey card is the thick card you can buy from picture framers as it’s used as the backing to framed pictures. It’s a lot stronger and cheaper than foam board, and comes in bigger sheets. As always, it might have a different name in different parts of the world).

Dismantling the toy Falcon

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The first task is dismantling the toy into it’s component parts.

I decided it would be easier to prime the hull in parts rather than doing it first, as I am going to have to scratch build several missing bits later, and I want the colours to match.

Mostly dismantling the ship is about unscrewing everything I can, and using a flat header screwdriver to lever out the snap-fit parts. There was a nice seat I wanted to reuse and cut down to be the right scale, but it was resin glued in place to I had to destroy that to remove it from the floor.

The most important tip here is to keep all the screws somewhere safe so you can find them again when you start reassembling the ship.

The Falcon put up a bit of a fight - some bits had been resin glued together which I suspect had been a home repair.The Falcon put up a bit of a fight - some bits had been resin glued together which I suspect had been a home repair.

While it’s a bit early to think about a detailed room layout, I’m starting to think about which parts I might reuse to reinstate a bit of structural strength and hold the roof on. There’s a nice arch I want to reuse that as a bonus covers the battery compartment, so I won’t have to weaken the floor by cutting that out. There’s also a smug i.e.glers hidden compartment I’d like to save, and I have to think about how the cockpit cannopy is going to attach to the rest of the ship – there’s a hinge there already that I might as well reuse, but that does mean I’ll probably separate that from the rest of the roof and glue that in place permanently as an arched corridor leading to the cockpit.

The ramp is going to be difficult to do without weakening the floor. As nice as it would be to make it able to open and close, it is probably going to be stronger if I make it fixed in the open position.

I’ll put these vital elements in place, strip out any unneeded walls and clutter with a dremmel, and then design a floor plan around that when I see what space is left.

 

 

The Hull

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The first thing to do, is to buy a plastic toy Millennium Falcon to strip down to use as the basic hull for this project. The kenner toys from the 1970’s would have been ideal, but my funds are limited and those have become very expensive collectors items.

More recent Millennium Falcon toys are more affordable, and I managed to find a damaged second hand one on ebay for under a tenner.  As at some stage I will probably be cutting it up that was ideal for my purposes. Luckily when it arrived the scale seems right – I wanted to be able to stand 3-4 figures in the cockpit to be able to recreate those classic star wars scenes.

It hasn’t got legs or an opening ramp like the older kenner toys had, so I’m going to have to fix that, and it has a large Nerf gun that, …ahem,… Isn’t Canon 🙂 So that needs removing. The hatches that are meant to hide the gun are missing, so I will have to rebuild that part of the ship’s roof.

Also, I want my Falcon to look complete,  but to be able to remove the top roof to reveal the realistic insides of the ship, so it’s going to need a removable lid for the whole ship – currently only the back half lifts off. Until I get it stripped down into parts and I can see how it’s constructed I am not sure exactly how I am going to do that…. If things go very badly my fall back position is to too make a crumpled crashed spaceship scenery price out of the toy if it just falls apart and loses all structural integrity once I start cutting bits off it – these toys are normally made as cheaply as possible and cutting a ramp out of the floor and cutting off the roof may just remove too much of the support if plastic is too flimsy.

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