Introduction: Vintage MPC Scout Trooper Model - Mod
It is always cool to find a vintage Star Wars model (new in the box).
This one is a 1980's MPC Speeder Bike model that was sold to the local hobby shop by a model collector who was thinning out his collection of untouched boxed models (these models can also be found on Ebay).
So rather than unboxing and building it right away, I YouTubed the build techniques.
The YouTube video series I watched is from Norm Lajoie and I applied about 95% of his techniques (including replacing the supplied plastic hoses for metal springs) but most importantly I learned that there were some quality and accuracy issues with this kit.
Mr Lajoie did not cover the Scout Trooper so I started that build on my own. Just like the bike build, I discovered that the Trooper had a lot of accuracy issues too.
What I will attempt to do is to fix two of the accuracy issues:
1. The shortened helmet
2. The odd shaped chest plate
I will also turn the model's head so that he is not looking straight forward (boring) because models should be interesting and encourage the viewer to look at it in different angles; go ahead and turn it around and expect to see something different with each turn. With the Trooper facing forward, the model is too symmetrical.
Step 1: Unboxing and Evaluating
Part of the quality issue for this model is the fit (gaps) for each part and that the left and the right side of the model is not the same; armor should be symmetrical.
The knee and the helmet have some issues.
The knee was easy to fix. On the outside of each knee, there is extra material that has to shaped down to fit the contour of the kneecap armor (should curve around from left to right). I used an Exacto knife cut back the extra material and shape the new curved contour.
Step 2: Glue and Fill
The after gluing up the model pieces, I used model putty to fill in the many gaps and used some simple tools to shape the putty to fit the model. Another thing that I had to do was look for low spots in the model and most of them were found on the helmet.
Step 3: Fix and Build a New Helmet
When viewing the Scout Trooper from movie stills, you will notice that the helmet has vents, left side, right side and one in the middle. The model has a fully formed vent on the right, a partial one on the left and zero vents in the middle.
I corrected for the partial vent on the left side with styrene. I cut the styrene to fit, and glued it to the helmet. I also used putty to fill in any gaps, then sanded smooth (now the right and left match).
Now to add the middle vent. The face mask has to to be repositioned lower in the helmet to fit in the new vent. To do that I had to cast a new helmet so that I can cut it apart and add in a new section.
I used a two part modeling putty made by Bare Metal Foil (my opinion the best).
Then I used a two part resin to do the cast of the new part (I made several copies).
Using a rotary tool, I hollowed out one helmet (taking out the face) and then cut the face mask out of another piece.
Caution: when using a rotary tool, use a face mask --- preferably a respirator because the dust is fine and it gets everywhere. Also use eye protection!
To add vents to the face mask, I used a thin strip of styrene and glued it onto the forehead using CA glue.
Next thing to do was to make a neck for the helmet so that it would:
a. fit into the neck void
b. it could be articulated so that it can twist around, look up or down---look natural.
Use CA glue to glue the pieces together, sand and shape.
Step 4: Build a New Chest Plate
One of the things that bothered me with the model was that the chest armor looked like a vest, very flat much like the jackets worn by the guards from Bespin (Empire Strikes Back).
Looking at a movie still from Return of the Jedi, the Scout Trooper should have a shorter chest plate.
So I decided to cast a new chest plate from the original model. This part took some imagination.
I kept the original neck line but I shortened the bottom of the chest plate by cutting down the width of the bottom contoured line to about half (see the first picture where I drew a thin black line and compare to the new chest plate). Next thing to do is to shave down both of the neck's broad contour lines at the top. Make sure that the lines that are near the neck are close to flat and then angled up to be thick again at bottom contour (like a ramp see picture).
Because the resin is very durable. I was able to shave the chest piece down so that it was very thin. The thinner the better so that it can be glued (CA glue) to the model and then blended in.
I used putty to fill in the gaps (around the arms, shoulders and neck) and sanded smooth.
Step 5: Add Some Color
I used an airbrush to paint the armored pieces and added dirt and smudges (who can keep a white uniform clean).
All of the paints that I used were acrylic modeling paint. The white is X-2 Tamyia gloss white, Model Air for the dirt (brown, green and grey).
For the black areas I used XF-1 Tamyia and a paint brush (except for the gloves). On the gloves I used Model Masters black semi-gloss.
Next thing to do is to replace the new painted head for the original head. I cut the head off using an Exacto keyhole saw. Thick CA glue was the best glue to use at this point.
To blend in more dirt and grime, I brought out my weathering powder and burshed it on.
Step 6: Building the Base
The MPC model kit came with a weak plastic stand. With the modifications that I made to the bike and Trooper (added metal springs for the plastic hoses and added a resin head) the stand could not withstand the added weight.
I chose to ditch the stand and create a base with three separate supports for the heavier the model. One under the veins, one support for the rear and a middle support for good measure.
From my back yard I found sticks and branches from a walnut tree. Both the stick and branch was cut down to size and screwed down to the plank (from the underside).
I also drilled holes in the sticks to insert and glue hangers/brackets. Then I glued the middle support onto the the plank with a balsa support.
I used plexiglass for my back and middle support (make it invisible) and a wire coat hanger in the front with a hook bent into it (the hook will catch the model if it slides around because I do not plan to glue the bike to the base).
To add some landscaping, I used foliage for model train layouts, dirt from my yard and lots of white glue.
It is up to your imagination on how the landscape should look. Because I liked the way that my finished plank looked, I did not want to totally cover the plank with vegetation so I partially covered it.
Step 7: Enjoy!
The completed model. It was many hours of work but well worth it.