Happy Star Wars Day! As they say, May the Force Be With you! This is a good one (at least as far as I’m concerned!). I am, at my core, a geek/nerd whatever term you choose, I don’t care. I like nerdy things. All my life I have loved Star Wars. I remember having Star Wars toys in the toy chest in my Kindergarten classroom (boy those early Kenner toys we beat the crap out of at playtime would be worth something nowadays to collectors!), I remember family trips to Tennessee in the 1980’s and first seeing Star Wars movies in bits and pieces on motel TV’s. Yes, this is another That’s No Train project, past ones can be read about here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7!
This project is a little diorama/oversized book nook with the Bandai 1/12th scale Darth Vader figure. It is a model of the best scene in the best movie since the original trilogy, Rogue One, the hallway scene where Darth Vader appears and unleashes his fury on the rebel crew trying to get the stolen Death Star plans away to the rebellion. This was one of the legendary “re-shoots” of this movie, where after the first cut was done, they realized it wasn’t working and they went back to add scenes to fix it. Its hard for me to imagine what this movie was like without this scene, though its also hard to remember that in 1977, the world was told Darth Vader was this bad assed villain, but you never really got to see him in action in the original Star Wars. Here, in this prequel to A New Hope, you get a glimpse of Vader unleashed, and its awesome!
I am a tease, the finished Vader hallway ridiculously lights up my entire home office from its new home on top of a bookcase. The best part is, this will be floating above my head behind me in work zoom calls now!
I have built several of the 1/12th Scale Bandai Star Wars droids, and I wrote about them in That’s No Train Part 5, the Bandai kits are made for the Japanese market, where there is markedly less tolerance for poorly designed and engineered kits. Over the years, the handful of kits from the big Japanese manufacturers Hasegawa, Tamiya and Bandai have far outstripped those from American manufacturers in terms of the quality of design and ease of building. The Vader is the first non-droid kit I have done, and I had my doubts about the more human kits and how they would look compared to a droid that can be a bit mechanical and chunky at the joints without looking wrong. In the interests of full disclosure, my motivation for my take on this project came from two YouTube videos of builds of the Vader from Boylei Hobby Time, one where he first lit the light sabre, and one where he did a diorama that I used as the inspiration for mine. See them here and here. I am, quite pleased with how the Vader looks. I basically built it as per the instructions aside from the light sabre and painting all the little details rather than using the stickers or decals provided (it comes with both, which is a nice tough for those less familiar with water slide decals but who want a nice looking build).
A collection of work in progress shots of designing and building the hallway box diorama. As with all the Bandai kits I’ve built, the build is straightforward and no mussing about.
For this to work, the light sabre needs to light up, doing so, was a challenge, until I saw the videos above, and of course, through the wonders of the internet, you can buy LED filaments without them being in a bulb, that work off 3V batteries. Lights using 3V coin cells or 9V batteries are what I have become familiar with wiring for, so knowing I could buy these from AliExpress meant I was working with something I knew. The harder part, especially with bars closed was finding red cocktail straws! I eventually found some on Amazon…Incidentally, if anyone needs 998 red plastic cocktail straws, I have some I can send you!
The LED Filament Bulb, testing getting it to stay straight with the cocktail straw, and with Vader holding it, the difference when the room lights are on vs. off is tremendous in terms of the glow.
In deciding to do the diorama, I needed to make some arches for the spaceship corridor Vader appears in at the end of Rogue One. In looking at how big the figure is, that made even a small hallway, 8″ square. These arches were going to be big. When I drew it in CAD, I drew four arches as you can see in the photos, as I looked at the model, that was clearly too many. I was however, struggling with how to create three identical (or close enough) arches that would look good. In discussing with an engineer friend, he noted he had a home PLA 3D printer and that the arches just fit on the build plate, he could 3D print them for me. Initially I thought about having him print one and casting them, but that would have been a massive mold and a ton of resin, vs the cheap cost of the 3D prints. He was able to run three off, then bring them to me. Figuring out the best settings meant that one of the three was just an outline, but I was able to add styrene walls to enclose it, and the difference is all hidden by paint. In fact, the imperfect surface of the extruded 3D print is perfect for the beaten up spaceship look that the hallway kind of has in the movie. As with everything of late it seems, the arches and box was stretching the size of things I can fit into my spray booth the airbrush. I got it done, but not without plenty of finagling and a bit of swearing at myself!
The arch design on my computer, building the box without arches, the 3D printed arches arriving and then painting and assembly up to a basically complete shot but with the lights on so you don’t get any real effect from the light sabre.
So, with this done, I have no “non train” model kits on my workbench (other than a 3000+ piece Lego Set that was my Birthdayversary present for our wedding anniversary last week and my birthday next….). Maybe I’ll write about that too. So without further ado, having drawn this out impossibly longer than any sane person would, I give you, The Dark Lord of the Sith, Lord Vader from Rogue One…