Building a better styrene “Chopper”

modified NWSL The Chopper

So my latest project wasn’t actually a model, but a modification of Northwest Short Line’s The Chopper. I had had problems with The Chopper being able to cut really thin styrene. I also had a problem with the blade chipping away at the pressed wood base. In talking with someone at Keeper of the Force, he showed me a similar modification he did, which I copied.

In rebuilding it, I used a solid piece of wood instead of the cheap cardboard like base. I used a Dremel to router away a small square inlay where I could glue a piece of glass. I used a cheap mirror, so I had to sand the mirror finish off the back. Then I painted it black for easier visibility against white styrene. The glass gives the blade a hard surface to cut against instead of chipping away at the wood.

I then used a stainless steel ruler with metric markings, and mounted it in place with the 15cm mark where the blade comes down. I had to glue down the brass grommets, but everything seems to work well for now.

Scale lists updated

I’ve been doing some recalculations on some of the ships, particularly the fighters. After looking over the Millennium Falcon Owner’s Manual, as well as comparing the models I have, I changed my estimates for the TIE Fighter, TIE Advanced x1, and the A-wing. The TIE looks to be 8.2 m; the Advanced x1 is a little shorter at 7.6 m. Finally, the A-wing is a mere 6.9m, though I could see it being even shorter. I also doubled the length of the Mon Calamari Home One cruiser based on images from Wookieepedia to 3200 m.

In the future, I plan on doing pages dedicated to discussing the sizes of many of these ships.

Breaking into the hobby

One thing I enjoy about modeling is seeing new people get into the hobby. Yet, it worries me that people may be discouraged by everything that is out there. The photos of professionally built models, aftermarket accessories, and the dozens of paint brands make it kinda intimidating. One look at a lot of the pics of models and you might wonder, “how can I ever make something that good?” Couple that with some modelers vehemently arguing about accuracy (even sci-fi modelers), and I can imagine anyone would feel overwhelmed after a bit of reading.

The important thing to realize is that like any art form, everyone has their own style and their own desire for what they want to focus on. The other aspect to remember is that everyone was a beginner once. Look back through my models, and you’ll see how rough they were when I started out. I built with superglue, slathered on the paint, and barely weathered at all. It took a lot of practice to get where I am now. And I have to remind myself that I’m not trying to beat someone else…but rather, I’m trying to get a little better with each model.

On that note, if any viewers have any questions about modeling or any of the articles/models on my website, feel free to message me. I always like meeting new modelers, and I think it’s great sharing information and tips.

Now go paint something.

– Jonathan

AT-AT barge last build update

Well, I have finished the build of the AT-AT barge. Check out all the photo-etch greeblies I threw in around the engines and the blown off panel.

AT-AT Barge

I’m working on a custom AT-AT barge currently. It’s roughly 1/500 scale, similar to the Micro Machines AT-AT walkers. I used a Dragon Sd.kfz 251 hull, but most of it is scratchbuilt.

Cat and Bird on the Eastern Front

Recently, I finished two WWII Eastern Front German vehicles in winter camo, a Tiger I set in Leningrad, and an Fw 190 F-8 based in Hungary. These are both 1/72 kits.