Building the Finemold 1/72nd Scale Millennium Falcon

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The 1/72nd Scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon
NOTE: this Project was completed in late August 2013. You can see the finished model in our Gallery section here. You can see the kit before construction here.

Cockpit

Cockpit

Seats

Moulding

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1) This Project started on the 21st December 2012 with the cockpit. I built up the Acreation photoetch cockpit as per the instructions. In this photo note the two yellow LEDs from the Voodoo FX kit placed behind the console in the footwell bay.

2) Comparing the phototech to the Fine Molds kit part. Acreation have done an essential job if you wish to light the kit as their photoetch is like swiss cheese! Note the imaginative use of pedals in the footwell of the kit part! This photo also shows the seats and the crew - Chewie and Han. At this point I was unsure about whether I would be modelling the Falcon from "The Empire Strikes Back" escape from Hoth sequence or from "A New Hope" escape from Tatooine. I wanted a diorama of take-off with minimum crew up front. Modelling less crew members would save a headache. However I wanted to model the cockpit door closed. Unfortunately it was open in the Tatooine escape scene. The model is a better replica of the Empire Strikes Back version of the Falcon. Although Princess Leia Organa is in the cockpit during the Hoth Echo Base takeoff, the cockpit door is shut in that sequence - so I will be modelling this takeoff configuration. Princess Leia will be added later. The Acreation photoetch matches the cockpit depth front-to-rear of the kit parts but both are too shallow. There isn't much you can do about this though. You will also have to fiddle-about figuring out how to match-up the front of the Acreation cockpit to the kit parts. They do not match at all so you will need some imagination to fabricate a new cockpit coaming to mate photoetch parts to kit parts.

3) Those cockpit seats - before and after modification. The front two (on the left in this photo) can be modelled from the kit seats with only a few improvements. You will need to flatten the headrest - it is not as pointed as the kit item suggests. Cut away as much unnecessary plastic as possible and mount these seats on plastic rod like the real thing. They were not bolted to the floor on a solid square block - they swivelled. The rears seats require more work - cut away the bottom and tops as shown in the photo (if you have an old Aeroclub Martin Baker Mk4 ejection seat to hand in 1/72nd scale). Take an Aeroclub white metal Martin Baker Mk4 ejection seat seatback and mate it to the kit-seat-front. You must thin down the rear of the kit seat. The part-modified seats are in the foreground with the Aeroclub white metal section clearly visible. (Unmodified at rear.)

4) 26th December 2012 - I got out my Sylmasta resin moulding kit - why? Well I only had one of the Aeroclub ejection seats whereas I needed two. So I decided to mould the two rear sections of the ejection seat using the Aeroclub part as a master.

Mould

Seats

Seats

Seats

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5) Bits of Lego come in handy when moulding. I superglued the Aeroclub seat rear to the piece of sprue that is seen sticking out of the top of the rubber mould. The moulding rubber is blue and this photo shows it setting inside the Lego container which can be broken down later to release the mould.

6) 28th December 2012 - heh presto! After several attempts I get a couple of decent copies of the Aeroclub seat-back. Moulding with resin is tricky so be prepared to try and try again. Air bubbles are a nightmare!

7) Now mate-up the resin seat-backs to the kit part. Note that you have no use for the Aeroclub seat-front.

8) The completed rear-cockpit seats now with armrests and mounted on their final plinths (some circular cross-section plastic extrusion) that allow us to handle the seats for painting. These are also the seat-mounts that will be used to secure the seats into the cockpit. These seats obviously swivelled. In the escape from Hoth the right-hand seat is not even facing forward, it faces the side bulkhead. The other seat has Princess Leia in it.

Switch

Switch

Gunwells

Cockpit

 

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9) The Voodoo FX kit comes with quite a chunky on/off switch. I chose to mount mine under the Falcon's comms antenna. Fine Molds have made this removable (and "workable") which means it can eaasily be popped on and off to access the switch & light the model. 

10) This is the underside of the switch inside the kit hull. The light-grey plastic shows that I have not mounted this via any kit part. You need to sink the switch several millimetres into the model. To get the required depth I found that two halves of the Accurate Miniatures 1/48th scale Il-2 Shturmovik kit fuel tanks did the trick!

11) The Gunwells - you can download sidewall detail panels off the internet but it takes a bit if trial and error before you can print them to the right size. Once you perfect the size then you need only cut them out and glue them in place. Note that the gunwells are portrayed by Fine Molds as having parallel sides whereas, in fact, they tapered like the inside of a pyramid. I chose not to correct the problem as the view inside is very limited.

12) The Acreation photoetch cockpit has quite thick bulkhead walls which would create quite an obvious step that the "real" Falcon cockpit doesn't have. After studying the photos I realised that the problem is with then Fine Molds cockpit canopy. The top and rear of the canopy interior forms part of the bulkhead. It extends to the pilot's overhead position - indeed Chewie is seen reaching up and flicking switches on the overhead console in one scene. I decided to replicate this overhead bulkhead on the kit part. I built up the thickness with scrap plastic before detailing with spare photoetch. This photo shows the canopy masked for painting with scrap photoetch used on the framing too.

Engines

Engine

Engine mount

Millenium Falcon

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13) 30th December 2012 - I start work on the engines. First I cut out the rear section of the letterbox opening. We will be lighting the engine bay so it needs to be extended backwards by a centimetre to create a 'light-box' in which the LEDs will be mounted.

14) In this picture I show the various engine parts with the Acreation clear parts and the LEDs for scale. Voodoo FX supply seven blue LEDs for the engine. The white sheet at the bottom of the picture is a semi-transparent diffuser (made of nylon) supplied as a sheet in the Voodoo FX kit. This can be replaced by the Acreation transparent engine nozzles however you have nothing to mount them on - so this section will still have its uses.

15) 31st December 2012 - before we head off to New Year celebrations there was just enough time to build up the light-box behind the engine bay. You can see it here as the extension behind the engine. It is boxed-in underneath, to the rear and on the sides. All it needs is a lid which is seen resting loose on the kit interior in this shot. After the LEDs are mounted this part will be glued on before sealing up the hull. Note that I left the interior of the engine light-box plain plastic white. The LEDs are blue already so the white provides a good shiny reflective background.

16) 27th January 2013 - a month later and we see the development of some internal partitions made of white plastic card, a significant amount of wiring & LEDs, a circuit board and a cockpit.

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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17) The cockpit lower-half has been added so that it can be wired for lighting purposes. The original kit rear cockpit bulkhead has been glued to the furthest point backward along the cockpit corridor. The area between the new photo-etch cockpit rear-bulkhead and this firewall is coated with Baremetal foil to prevent shine-through from cockpit lights backwards into the main hull. Several holes have been drilled into the rear firewall so that LED wiring can be fitted through. The section at the bottom in red is the underside of the rear cockpit floor. Since the cockpit light is predominantly warm (from red lights) this is the colour hue I was trying to achieve from light over-spill. No red LEDs are supplied so a red reflective surface will do. The small square of white plasticard in the red area is for the white light band in the cockpit wall. This should NOT show red through!
18 & 19) These forward facing LEDs are the Falcon's "main headlights". Here we see the slight dog-leg in the pins to the LED as we had to negotiate our way around the upper/lower-hull mounting pin right where the LED needed to be. These photos only show the LEDs resting in place, they are not yet fixed.
20)
Here we see the inside of the lower-hull and a lot has changed since December. A deep plastic 'collar' has been added in a semi-circle to the central column that houses the gun wells. This was necessary primarily to give a mounting guide to the clear acrylic rod that will be used to mount the model in "flying" mode. This internal partition also helps stop LED light from bouncing around inside the model and giving a "see-through" look. A couple of bulkheads radiate at right-angles from this new central collar. In between is a large block of hardened Milliput. This took an entire pack of Milliput to make and is the mount for the acrylic rod. It was temporarily fixed in place before the Milliput was mixed up and applied, blob-by-blog around it. Only the top of the acrylic rod will be visible through the hole you can see in this picture. The engine has all its Blue LEDs in place. There is one white LED for the gun-well tunnel. Wiring goes off to the right of the picture to the two front headlights as well as the on/off switch (installed on the upper hull so the wiring is just 'short-circuited' where it terminates). The circuit board is on-end at this point because I was still soldering leads on and needed to see the underside. When finished the circuit board will be pressed flat to the hull inside and secured with electrician's tape. Until we fit the upper-hull we cannot use the on/off switch to test the LEDs. Instead we short-circuited the switch cable and just touched the 9v battery terminals to their clips to test the circuit.

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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21) Here we see more detail of the mounting and the engine bay LEDs. The LED's have been secured with silicone adhesive but the mounting isn't very stiff so the LEDs ending up pointing in different directions. I ended up supergluing them into position. Note the battery clip in the top left.

22) Close-up of the battery compartment made up with plastic card. The battery will be inserted through an under-carriage bay roof. The undercarriage on the FineMolds Falcon has poly-caps allowing the modeler to fit the bay doors closed OR the extended undercarriage without the need for glue. You can swap them as you wish. We will use this useful feature to allow us to gain access to the battery compartment when we need to. If you do this then you will need to widen the compartment a little as a 9v battery is lightly too wide. This is not a problem. The rear of the engine bay will interfere with the battery compartment so I simple extended the battery comartment forward so that a 9V batter can be inserted in at a slight angle to clear the engine bay. The battery clip was then added with its wiring threaded through a hole in the side of the battery compartment. The compartment walls were made stiff through several triangular bulkheads around the outside.

23) Self explanatory picture of the mounting acrylic rod. I had to buy an entire metre of it just to get this short section! Note the careful shaping of the end nearest the camera. This end goes into the kit and is intended to butt-up against the inside of the upper hull so that the model hangs from the upper hull. This should make the mount stronger and stiffer. All that Milliput helps too.

24) The hole in the underside of the lower hull for the acrylic rod. This was carefully drilled out as close to the center of gravity as possible although it is at an angle. Most of the weight is at the back of the kit helping to reduce the bending forces on the acrylic rod.

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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25) Close-up of lower-hull entry point for the mounting rod. This area has a couple of greeblie additions to the outside and these were added later in an attempt to neaten up the hole. The result wasn't brilliant but is good enough. It was hard to get the hole the right shape to mount the rod at an angle.

26) Here we see the acrylic rod mounted in position from the outside of the lower hull. The blue plastic visible on the shaft is just the protective wrapping that came with the rod. It has been left on to protect it from scratches. You can see from this view the angle at which the rod is mounted to the hull.

27) Switching views back to the inside of the hull we can see the top end of the mounting rod sticking out of its hole at the top of the lump of Milliput.

28) Similar view to 27 above showing the top of the acrylic rod in position. The shaping of the rod tip allows it to rest firmly against the hull and internal bulkhead without twisting.

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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29) 24th February 2013 - a month-on again. Things proceed apace! This is a relatively easy and quick build if you compare this to the four years it took me to build three Accurate Miniatures 1/48th scale Shturmoviks. The reason for this is that this is a bit more like engineering than model making. It is on large kit with lots of sub-assemblies to keep you interested. The enthusiasm levels remain high and you can sit down for half-an-hour here and there and still make lots of good progress. It has been a very therapeutic antidote to the four years of hell I spent trying to get those Il-2's looking accurate. The FineMolds Flacon doesn't have any fit problems or joint lines to fill in and rub down. It just bolts together. The nature of the Falcon's shape and the fact it is a science fiction model means you can relax and just glue it all together without worrying about accuracy or gaps. A real joy.

30) A rear view shows the inside of the lower hull has gone all black and that the engine bay has been sealed up. More than this - the rear of the engine has been added with the 'grid' structure you can see. Inside the Acreation clear engine sections have been added on top of the Voodoo FX nylon diffuser-strip (all superglued into place). Remember I told you that they sent only 12 parts when there should have been 13? Well they sent on two so I had a spare. Guess what? I ended up using all 14 parts because there was space for them. The 14th section had 1/3rd cut of its length and fitted perfectly.

31) The black inside the hull is Matt Black paint sploshed around to help stop internal reflections of any LED light over-spill. The rear of the engine LEDs do leak a bit of blue light and I didn't want this to be visible once the hulls are closed up. The engine bay has been coated with kitchen foil superglued into place. Those LEDs are very bright and the whole thing glowed when switched on. The foil stops the glow so that there will be no light over-spill when the model is complete and switched on. I have spent a lot of time trying to stop this from happening. I only want the light to appear where it should do - like the professional studio model. If I switch the LEDs on after completion to only find light spilling out of every crevice it will ruin the effect. This LEDs are bright so if you don't wrap foil around some of the places they are then the fuselage will simply GLOW!

32) Close-up of the cockpit which has now been fully wired including all LEDs and the fibre optics. The fibre-optic-LED assembly I was sent (from Voodoo FX) didn't work at first so I took it apart and removed the wiring. Then I added new wires and it worked. The fibre-optics were a pain really as the fibres are so thick and inflexible they are not all that practical in such a small kit. They are way over-scale for 1/72nd. This view also shows the black electrician's tape used to bundle all the wiring as well as black-out the undercarriage bays.

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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33 & 34) All the LEDs are in place behind the cockpit and the Acreation photoetch cockpit is in place. The fibre-optics were fixed with superglue and then blobs of silicone adhesive added for strength. The LEDs are then shoe-horned into the space between the Acreation cockpit and the rear bulkhead. There is three white lights and two green. Probably over-kill in such a small space. There are then the two yellow LEDs that are inside the instrument coaming at the front. I splashed some white paint around behind the cockpit. There is a clear acetate sheet mounted behind the Acreation photo-etch bulkhead and the LED light is meant to shine through it. However this can be a little too harsh so some white paint helped give it more of a glow. Also visible in this photo is the instrument coaming - once the Acreation photo-etch cockpit is finally mounted in place you will need to build the coaming from scrap plastic. I also a added a little scrap of Baremetal foil to stop the Yellow LED light from shining through the coaming.

35) Some detail in the cockpit. The Acreation decal looks great on paper but is rubbish in execution. The decal sheet is one big carrier sheet so you will need to carefully cut around each decal quite close to its edge. Then you find they are extremely fragile and fall to pieces at the slightest touch. This makes it very difficult to get them into position. Pushing them around makes them fall apart. However the worst problem is the fact they are see-through. You won't appreciate this until you mount them on a dark barckground - then it is too late!. IF YOU HAVE THE ACREATION SET THEN PAINT THE COCKPIT GLOSS WHITE AND THEN MOUNT THE DECALS. Only then fill in the surrounding area with very dark grey with a detail brush. The details on my decal set mostly vanished when placed on the gloss dark-grey background I had airbrushed onto the photo-etch. Hence I had to go back in and retouch it certain areas like the door surround and some white switches on the instrument panel. This photo also helps to show how hopelessly over-scale the fibre-optics are - they appear is big white blobs on the rear instrument panel. I would seriously recommend NOT using the fibre-optics in the Voodoo FX kit. They are best-off used for fuselage lights - anywhere but not in the cockpit. The holes in the Acreation photo-etch combined with the decals should be enough to get the lighting right in the cockpit.

36) The gun well tunnel has now been painted, weathered and has its black ladder mounted into place. To the left you can see a slot cut to represent the tunnel entry doorway. I have used a piece of the semi-opaque diffuser from the engine bay to blur the light from the LED. The LED can just be seen to the left of the tunnel.

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

FineMolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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37) The mandible front headlamps have now been fixed in place. Some blu-tac is used to position them before lots of silicone adhesive fixes them in place. There are frontal caps to be fixed over these LEDs later in assembly when the hull halves are joined. These caps have holes for the lights with clear-plastic headlamp covers from the FineMolds kit. It is interesting to reflect that many of the studio models didn't feature these lights and they appear to have been added for "The Empire Strikes Back". One studio model and one drawing I have seen have the lights offset from the centre but generally they were centred as per the FineMolds kit. The plastic end-caps will certainly glow when the LED is switched on so a layer of Baremetal foil will be needed inside so that the LEDs ONLY shines through the headlamps.

38) The inside of the upper hull during construction.

39) The outside of the upper hull during construction.

40) 9th March 2013 and the inside of the hulls have been painted black and the foam packing has been shaped to fit.

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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41) 12th March 2013  - The foam packing has been sprayed black and put back into position.

42) 9th March 2013 - The wooden base is constructed from a piece of dark hardwood window-sill board that we found in our home's attic when we moved house. (Looks like it was a leftover from when the house was built.) I had been looking for a chance to use it. As the Millennium Falcom was to be displayed taking off then I needed a heavy base for stability. The sill-board was ideal but not wide enough. So I chopped it in half and glued/stapled it along the flat edge to double the width. I had a bit of work to do to get it flat as it was a little warped. Then I found some nice wood veneer in a hobby shop that was glued over the ends. The result was sanded smooth and given an application of French Polish. I drew the snow pattern onto the top in marker pen and masked off. In this photo I have added some more staples in the snow area ready to secure the air-drying clay. This clay would be shaped with a hand-made scraper (seen in this picture) to resemble the straight-lined patten seen on the ice-base walls in the escape from Hoth. I made the patterned scraper from plasticard [cut by hand] which was then stiffened with a square brass rod superglued onto the back. A handle was fashioned out of bits of the Fine Molds Falcon's original display base. A plaque was also made of bit of old Fine Molds display base and this can also be seen in this photo towards the rear of the wooden base. To the left you can see the 15mm dia hole drilled to accept the acrylic rod. The inside of the hole has been painted white. A small offcut of rod is also seen here and this was used in the hole when the air-drying clay was applied to keep the hole from filling. Whilst the clay was wet I pulled the rod out to leave the hole clear. At the point this photo was taken I was ready to apply the air-drying clay. I found a pack of Hobbycraft own-brand white clay to use. However that proved to be a bit of a disaster - I will relate that story later. On with the build...

43) 17th March 2013 - the two parts of the hull are assembled now and the various greeblie bits are being attached.

44) 13th March 2013 - There are a lot of parts and the build sequence seemingly has you randomly swapping between sprues. So I put big bright labels on each in Tamiya masking tape to make it easier to grab the one I wanted.

 

At this point let's take a time-out to talk about the build sequence. Fine Molds seem to want you to apply a heck of a lot of delicate greeblie before major assemblies are done. I suggest that would be foolish. Do the heavy engineering before the delicate stuff, ie, get the big bits done before the small, the inside before the outside. So I built the kit approximately in this sequence: steps 1, 2, 3, 5, 12, 20, 29(2), 28, 6, 7, 8, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29 (remainder), 30, 31, 32 and 33 (although I applied the bottom half of the cockpit subassembly to the lower hull after step 20 due to the wiring constaints - the upper section was added only after the two main-hull halves were joined). Step 29 sub-step 2 is a small section that is trapped between the cockpit and the Falcon's main hull - you will need this built early to trap it in place during assembly of the two main-hull halves otherwise you might not be able to get it in at all with the lower cockpit corridor section already in place. Fine Molds intend for the cockpit sub-assembly to be in place LAST. This is probably the only gotcha to watch out for if you change their sequence.

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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45) 16th March 2013 - There are a lot of small parts so you will need to use a pencil and cross off anything you have added from the Instruction sheet - it really helps

46) 2nd April 2013 - Chewbacca - he is quite easy to paint!

47) Princess Leia - I suck at figure painting. Thankfully she is buried in the back in the dark so her poor appearence isn't a problem.

48) Han Solo - he looks a lot better that Leia.

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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49 & 50) The two rear seats from the cockpit looking quite good.

51 & 52) The two front seats from the cockpit also looking quite good.

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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53) One of the two gun-well seats. These are massively over-scale!

54) The interior of the cockpit canopy.

55) The main comms dish.

56) Battle damage from under the rear hull. I used a hot soldering iron and mini-drill to gouge out the laser-strike. I used the Haynes Manual illustrations as a guide but realised too late that they are wrong, as in they show the under-hull damage in mirror image. Ignore the Haynes Manual artwork and refer instead to the 30 inch Lucas Film Model that is pictured by Fine Molds on the box insert card.

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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57) The lower-rear hull greeblie all assembled.

58) More battle damage on the rear-lower hull in mirror image. Just behind the damage is the battery compartment-cum-undercarriage bay. There is some foam stuffed in there to stop the battery from rattling around and falling out.

 

There is one rather obvious major ommission from the model to note: none of the undercarriage bay doors are included. It appears to have been an oversight that even the photoetch industry hasn't filled. So I hit the internet and closely studied the relevant scenes from The Empire Strikes Back. A couple of modellers online adopted the same solution I was working on - and that was to attach the doors to the undercarriage bay floor sections either with new bay sides or some kind of linking strut to the bay floor. This is necessary since Fine Molds supply no bay wall detail. They engineered the kit to have legs or bay covers that can be popped in or removed using poly-pins. No thought was given to the bay doors despite the fact they they are quite obvious in the movie. It is apparent that Fine Molds engineered the kit from flying models that had no undercarriage. The undercarriage seems to have been an afterthought and thus ill-thought through.

 

59) Some pipework being added to the underside of one of the mandibles. These pipework pieces on Sprue "J" are too small and the ends are rounded. If you want a sharp butt-joint to the pipes moulded onto the hull then you need to create a clean cut at each end to remove the rounded tip. This makes the pieces even shorter. So I ended up with pieces of extruded plastic rod in combination with the kit parts. This is a mess. I had a look online and found at least one modeller simply removed the pipework and did it with brass rod! I am not sure I will go quite that far but this is going to be a royal pain in the arse.

60) Some more obvious battle damage from the upper-hull near the cockpit. All drawings and models show this consistently and it is easy to reproduce with hot soldering iron and mini-drill.

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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61) More battle damage on the upper hull. This section is well documented and easy to reproduce. It is a good question as to why Fine Molds did not reproduce battle damage since this was meant to be the Han Solo modified freighter, not some other freighter?

62) Finished greeblies on the rear-upper hull. This matches the 30 inch studio model well but examination of Fine Molds OWN model (from the box-insert pictures) shows that they didn't assemble all the pieces - so do not use this as a guide. This photo also shows the photoetch. The smaller fan grills supplied on the photoetch sheet do not match the studio model so should be consigned to the spares box. The six very large grills look great but the grills are easily see-through so you should fill in the gap behind with something of visual interest otherwise the original grill mounting holes look rather obvious.

63) More battle damage to upper-rear-right hull. Don't forget that there is also battle damage to the rear of the cocpkpit tunnel and on the side of one of the docking rings.

64) The only place where we needed filler - the tips of the mandibles are a troublesome fit and it is worth filling gaps here because of that LED headlight at the tip. Any gaps will have light spilling through them and that won't look good.

 

Note that I elected to have the loading ramp in closed position. The loading bay and ramp are quite innaccurate in comparison to the 'real' one on the movie set - you have been warned! Considerable scratch building required.

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

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65) 3rd April 2013 - The "Escape from Hoth" presentation base nearly finished. The original layer of air-drying clay did not dry as expected. I have some experience with the material and generally it does not shrink or curl. However this was Hobbycraft own-brand and it shrank, curled and broke up. So, whilst it was nearly hard I put some tiles and bricks on top to flatten it. After a couple of days I removed the weights and surveyed the damage. It was easily mended with some white decorator's caulking blended in. Then I roughly painted it white using Humbrol enamels before I gave it a thick layer of Johnsons Klear applied by brush. This was added before the enamel had really cured properly so it yellowed a little. Never fear, I wasn't finished; next I mixed up some blue enamel with white spirit & gloss varnish and applied that quite thickly allowing it to settle into the crevasses. I allowed that to dry before masking and airbrushing-on more of the Humbrol enamel white; focussing on the highlights. I blended in the blue this way to give more depth and make the snow look more icey and cold. Finally I sprayed on a thin layer of thinned down PVA glue and liberally spread on some Joefix Snow Powder (nasty stuff - looks like Aluminium oxide or something) for that final snow effect. Then I finished off with some more Klear airbrushed on thickly this time to seal it all in. It remained only to remove the masking and apply a bit of wax polish to the wood. In this picture I have temporarily inserted the mounting rod and (to the right of photo) you can see the small plaque made up of bits of the Fine Molds kit base. This will be painted in the colours of the Falcon before the large decal is applied. Then it will be permanently fixed onto the "Escape from Hoth" presentation base.

66, 67 & 68) Pictures of the underside as I was gluing on the undercarriage bay doors. These were cut from white plasticard to match the references I had (basically screen shots from The Empire Strikes Back that I simply photographed off the TV screen!). These were positioned with BlueTac with the gear bays in place in their trenches. This simply made the job easier. There will be some more detailed photos later.

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

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69 & 70) More of that troublesome pipework. In the end I abandoned using the kit parts and fabricated all the piping in extruded plastic. It will take quite a bit of cleaning up. A job I am not looking forward to but only because this kit spoils you - you hardly need to rub anything down!

71 & 72) 9th April 2013 - work is finished on the undercarriage bay doors. Here we see the front middle pylon top and bottom. Loops of piping hanging down inside the bays is from leftovers of wiring from the lighting kit. There wasn't enough for everything so we substituted in some stretched sprue when we ran out. Take note of the gear actuators extending down into the bays.

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

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73, 74, 75 & 76) Views of the front left and right undercarriages.

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

77 78 79 80
77 & 78) A screen-shot from "The Empire Strikes Back" of Chewie and Han arguing under the Falcon as it is parked at Echo Base on Hoth. It shows the front-middle (Han is pointing at it) and front-left (Chewie is kneeling at it). Compare to photo 78 showing a similar view of all three front undercarriage legs. Compare. Note that one of the pipes passes through the baffle and joins onto the top of the gear foot.
79 & 80)  Another screen shot of Han standing outside the Falcon when it was down the throat of that enormous worm creature in the asteroid belt. It shows (again) the front-middle undercarriage pylon (closest to Han) and the front-left (furthest away). Photo 80 shows the same view of the modifed kit legs with the same two items being furthest from the camera. Compare.

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

81 82 83 84
81 & 82) The same front three legs as modified.
83)
The rear two legs as modified.
84)
All the undercarriage legs together with a peek under the the front-middle leg.

1/72nd scale Finemolds Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

85 86 87 88
85) A peek under one of the rear legs. The bay doors have been decorated with greeblie of my own design. The "real" bay doors in The Empire Strikes back had no decoration on the set. The models had decorated doors but these didn't reflect the way the set Falcon doors were built. So you can leave it to your imagination.
86)
11th May 2013 - We'll give Princess Leia a coat of white.
87)
I cocked-up the transparencies big time. The main cockpit is OK but whilst removing the masking from the very front cockpit windows I scratched the transarencies badly. Probably should not have used Scotch-tape and I should NOT have tried to remove it with a new scalpel blade. It really dug in. What was worse: I had even managed to mask the WRONG side of the gun well transparencies because I overlooked the fact that they are concave not convex. So I will be gently rubbing-down the transparencies to remove several deep scratches - and I mean DEEP! This is going to be hell. To be fair this is the only mini-disaster of the entire build and I have been putting it off for ages. There are only a couple of deep cuts to treat with a few other light abrasions that will polish out easy. But I am kicking myself.
88)
I switched the LED rig on with all the room lights off at night and noticed quite a lot of light still bleeding from the front spotlights and the cockpit ring. So I masked these areas and airbrushed on the silver enamel Humbrol paint, This helped but wasn't quite enough so I added a second coat in the worst-effected areas by hand-brushing the silver enamel on thickly.

Fine Molds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds Millennium Falcon

Millennium Falcon Cockpit

Millennium Falcon

89 90 91 92
89) Here we see the front spotlight masked with a small dab of PVA glue and airbrushed, then brush-painted, silver enamel. This softened the detail a little. A coat of thick gloss black will be airbrushed on top. Hopefully this will do the trick after the final few coats of grey are applied. Either that or never use the internal LEDs after dark!

90) 23rd May 2013 - work progressing nicely as we start masking up the transparencies. As mentioned earlier I had scratched them in a few spots so had polished them up before proceeding. Next step will be to airbrush on some Future to seal the masking in before airbrushing on the grey. Update - June 2013 - this proved to be a disappointing experiment. The Future over the transparencies simply didn't stick. When over-sprayed with the cockpit grey it simply all peeled off when I removed the masking. The Future had also crept under the masking making a mess. Lesson learnt - this technique may work only on pre-painted surfaces. On untreated surfaces use a good undercoat! In this case I stripped the paint/Future off then remasked again to paint again later in the project as part of the whole.

91) 3rd June 2013. Cockpit assembled with its occupants in their seats. Control columns added as were the instrument panel control sticks. (Apologies about the poor quality of the picture as I forgot to set the Aperture priority.) I later applied the cockpit transparencies and then masked using Tamiya tape cut to shape using the Fine Molds canopy (supplied in grey plastic with no clear parts) as a template. These are alternatives to the glazed plastic giving you the opportunity to recreate the look of the original filming models. Glazing would not have worked on the stage during filming as it would have caused reflections. It is a nice touch but I certainly had no intention of using them. This is meant to be a spaceship. Having no glass in the windows just looks weird!

92) 27th June 2013 and several coats of primer later the Falcon has been rubbed down and the pre-shading applied.

Millennium Falcon

Millennium Falcon

Millennium Falcon

Fine Molds Millennium Falcon

93 94 95 96
93, 94 & 95) 27th June 2013 and several coats of primer later the Falcon has been rubbed down and the pre-shading applied. I used Alclad Grey Primer & Microfiller for the base coat but it can give a slightly pebbley finish so I rubbed down with Micromesh cloths before adding the pre-shade with Humbrol Gloss Black. It give a nice smooth finish.
96)
3rd July 2013 - the first coats of Humbrol Grey had been applied over the pre-shading. This was done with several, well-thinned, wet coats applied over several days with my trusty old Badger airbrush at 30psi. The Badger always seems to allow me to apply more paint over large areas whereas the Iwata is a dainty machine and really struggle to do any large coverage. So I used the Iwata for the pre-shading. This photo shows the Falcon upside-down with the mounting rod sticking out (I use it to hold the model during painting).

Fine Molds Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

97 98 99 100
97) 3rd July 2013 - this piece of card has the undercarriage bay door/covers, the name plaque, the gun bay windows and gun well covers all of which have been airbrushed a couple of coats of the final grey mix.
98)
3rd August 2013 - fast-forward a bit and we have now given the Flacon a couple of coats of Future to give it a gloss ready for the decals. Here we can see the modeller's bench setup with saucer of water and bottles of decal softener. Yup, you will need a lot of that. The Finemolds decals are thickly printed and will need a lot of persuasion to settle down over all that greeblie detail. No wonder several other modellers on the web decided to paint on the markings instead. I would recommend this but, being a glutton for punishment decided to try the decals. The decals are not bad for the reddish-brown markings but close examination of the studio models revealed that they have missed quite a few of the grey and red patches. Not only that but the grey colour decals are not even vaguely the right shade! They are a very pale magnolia-grey whereas the studio model shows a much darker grey with no hint of a brown shade whatsoever.
99)
12th August 2013 - now the decals have all been applied and some of the masking removed. Next up we are applying a wash to bring out the panel lines. I used a black oil wash on the finer details and Flory/Pro-Modeller weathering wash for the rest. I had planned to use a muddy brown colour too but decided against it as the studio models don't show this kind of colouration in the seams.
100)
12th August continued - top-side of the Falcon at the weathering stage. The decals had been sealed in with a dusting of Future before this started.

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

101 102 103 104
101, 102, 103) At this stage three hairline cracks appeared around the upper-hull perimeter of the upper gunwell. These remain a mystery but may be a result of the mounting-rod twisting around inside the Falcon during manipulation. However the rod is in a shaft of Milliput attached to the underside of the hull, not the upper-side, so it isn't clear why an stress should be applied to this area. Either way I decided to added a couple of patches seen here (white plasticard) attached with superglue. These just look like more greeblie under a final coat of weathering applied later. You couldn't do THAT with any other non sci-fi, non-fiction, model aircraft!
104)
17th August 2013 - The washes were sealed in with a dusting of good-old Humbrol Matt Varnish as this gives a better surface to apply the final stage of weathering - the pastel dust. This won't apply easily to a gloss surface. Note that I applied only a very light touch of dry-brushing. Again, the detailed shots of studio models don't hint of this effect.

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

105 106 107 108
105, 106, 107 & 108) At this point I had used the Iwata to apply streaks and spots of Xtracolour Exhaust for battle damaged areas as well as the prominent, ahem, 'exhaust streak' of the rear upper-hull. Shortly after I applied Humbrol 33 Matt Black with a fine brush inside any battle damage holes to give them depth. This looks quite close to the effect used on the studio models although I noted they used less exhaust streaking them me. Me and my enthusiasm! I also noticed that there were multiple single-spot laser blast damage on the hull in numerous places. To get this effect a small circle of airbrushed Exhaust (very dark grey) is applied and allowed to dry. Then the Humbrol Matt Black is applied as a dot in the middle with a fine-tip detail brush. I then smudged the dot with my finger to make it bleed out a little. This was quite effective.

The pastel dust was applied to match the references. Only two primary colours are required: a very dark grey/black and a rusty/orange colour. Brush strokes yield streaks that are too wide so I simply used a small piece of paper with a straight edge. I held the piece of paper against the model surface and ran the dust-laden brush along the edge of the paper - like masking. Remove the paper and you get a nice straight edge and a thin streak. It worked very well in replicating what you see on the studio models. When complete the Falcon still looked a little too clean so I scattered some pastel dust randomly over the hull. I then used a large flat brush to gently stroke the dust over the hull from the middle to the outer edge. This gave the radial streaking effect you see on the real thing. Now it is nearly finished bar a final coat of Enamel Satin/Matt to seal in the dust!

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

109 110 111 112
109 & 110) 20th August 2013 - nearly finished, just a couple of evening's work left now to finish final assembly. A final light coat of Humbrol Matt & Satin Varnish blend has been applied and allowed to dry for two days. I have mounted the Falcon on its display stand just to see how she looks. All final masking has been removed and all painted smaller items removed from their cardboard mount. The display placque has been slotted in place on the base and stays there tightly without glue so it can be removed later. Being a little nervous about the hairline cracks I have but a simple strut of expanded polystyrene under the nose (as a prop) to relieve stress from the rear fuselage. For storage I would probably dismount the Falcon and just rest it on its under-carriage. All that is left to do now is to finish the assembly of the two gun-wells and mount the undercarriage. I have also painted the closed-undercarriage bay doors just in case I needed them. The gunwells need their paper-printed sides gluing on as well as their seats before the lid is glued finally onto the circular mount that is free to rotate within the hull-halves. Why Finemolds designed it this way is a mystery as it resembles nothing about the Falcon nor its studio models. Maybe it seemed a good idea at the time?

A few points of reflection: a couple of modellers online have done a beautiful job of superdetailing this Falcon. This is somewhat gilding the lilly. Yes you could remove external-moulded-on piping and replace it with metal tubing but this really adds very little. Simply score along each plastic moulded tube and run a fine wash along it - the pipe will visually appear to hover over the surface! Another modeller added all kinds of greeblie in attempt to make this Falcon look like a different studio model. Nice if you are a glutton for punishment but there were multiple models and they were all different. Finemolds based THIS kit on just one model - the 30 inch studio model that they show photos of inside the kit boxing. It matches that model very well so is "accurate" even though there are many improvements that can be made. On this final point it is odd as to why Finemolds pushed the part-count so high with the greeblie. It wasn't always necessary as most of it could have been moulded on. There is one component towards the end of the build where Finemolds abandons their usual style of multiple tiny parts and, instead, mould the item as a single piece. This actually worked very well and proved they could do it. One wonders if they wanted a high part count to charge a higher price to the US market? Who knows. If you like lots of small pointless parts then this is the kit for you!

111 & 112)
22nd August - Finishing touches. Gunwells in final assembly. A close up of the hull top before the gunwells go in. Job done.

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

Finemolds 1/72nd scale Millennium Falcon

 

113 114 115  
113 & 114) Final close-up shots of the undercarriage being assembled.
115)
Closing shot on the 22nd Agust 2013 - almost exactly 8 months since we started on 21st December 2012. You can see 360degree panoramic photos of the finished Falcon over in our Gallery section here.

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