NX-42 Experimental Surface Assault Craft

"Lieutenant Commander Hal Jordan looked at the ship on the pad. Sleek, streamlined. Nice curves, and a solid frame. The small size guaranteed a lot of power and manoueverability, considering this had the same engines as short range planetary shuttles, which were a much larger craft. Being able to re-route the power from those massively powerful engines into the main weapon systems was integral to the success of this craft. The photon missile launchers bristled with a full payload, and Hal felt the tingle of excitement that always came when test flying a new ship. He wondered briefly about the lack of a screen, or cockpit, but then Federation shield technology had advanced a lot in the last few years. Nothing would get through the shields, and if it did, well, it was definately a bad time! Starfleet insisted that the speed, agility and firepower of these new assault crafts would easily make them superior in any combat arena.

Hal boarded the craft, plugging in the headset he would use for voice command, and comms with the base. The ship relied mainly on voice commands through the main computer system, and only the most basic functions, steering and firing were really manual. The combination of dual stick control, and also the rudder flaps, made the ship simple to control. He fired up the short range impulse engines, and with the usual surge of power, the ship vibrated to life. The massive hydrofoil propeller beneath the pilot's seat thrummed to life, simulating anti-grav and lifting the ship off the pad. The colored halo of the multiphase shields briefly glowed around him, and he knew there would be no incident with debris or insects. Hal touched the control pad, inputing the string that unlocked the test flight pattern. With one word into the headset, the ship spun, lifted and was gone into the distance...."

Intro

Round 4. Slight delay, but we are here. The Jaguar Strike Craft from I-kore's Void line, a vehicle in the Veridian faction. I must say, that I-Kore and Bill have outdone themselves with this contest.This ship, and the next few rounds has really impressed the heck out of me. Not just simple figures, or a basic plastic kit, these are all top quality pieces. Thanks to all involved, and also the other contestants and the voters as well. When I first saw this, I thought of painting some nice camo patterns on it, and staying "within the box" so to speak. I haven't done a vehicle in years, and this is getting so far out of genre for me, I wasn't sure how I could pull it off. When I test fitted the pieces together however, the idea snapped in my mind in just one split second. I knew what the ship would look like, and now I had to figure out how to make it happen! Now, on to my write up for this round!

The Ship

The first thing I had to do was clean the ship. There was some minor flash, and the off bit that needed some work, but overall I was quite pleased with the casting. The seat didn't want to sit snugly on the main body, so I had to do some carving underneath the "arms" of the chair. Next, since the model is all metal and not plastic, I felt I better pin this bad boy together. This is my biggest effort pinning yet. I learned something very important about pin vices too.

IMPORTANT STORY

I had to drill so many holes, (16 I think), that I found it was going far to slow with the pin vice being used normally. Since I have a large round handle on mine, I decided I would press the handle against my stomach while holding the pieces with my left hand and twisting the vice with my right. Well there I go and slowly use pressure by pushing against my belly. Much better progress. One hole done. Two. Sweet! Well I am drilling away at a feverish pace and the bit is starting to bend just a little. Instead of stopping, I figure I can finish and that is when the bit broke. The boken end that was in the handle was now embedded firmly in my index finger... A curse and kick later, I had it cleaned and bandaged, but there was indeed some blood, sweat and tears in this model! The moral? Slow but sure. Use a tool safely or you can really hurt yourself!

This picture shows roughly all my pin locations. Four on the base and seat, one on the weapon beam, one on the engines, and two long ones to hold the tail beam on, due to its weight. I lined up the seat ones using a spot of blue paint on one side, and pressing the pieces together. Seemed to work okay. Next came the crazy glue and a short wait.

There were some big gap issues so I used some Greenstuff to patch in where some joins were too large. I simply used a small flathead screw driver to smooth out the putty, keeping the tool wet all the time. This way, the putty won't stick to the tool, just the ship :)

One thing about the putty, is that you figure it is nice and smooth, but when I primed it, there were still rough spots. So be very careful and smooth it properly before priming!

Using some white spray primer, I went at the ship and the resin base as well. At this point, I knew my plan, but really needed to figure out how to do it. I searched all over and after finding Starship Modeller, I looked up some Federation models to get colors and ideas happening. I found a fantastic Enterprise model, built and painted by Thorsten Scholz. I mailed and asked some questions, especially about the patterns, and texture of the ship plates. He used a complex masking system to achieve the effect, and I figured that was the way to go. I got some film paper from work and thought I would try a basic pattern at first. This was when I realised that the small scale of the vehicle would make it extremely difficult to actually try masking complex patterns. Not only this, but I had never tried it before!

In the end, I elected to try my hand at drawing the patterns on with a pencil. This worked out pretty good actually, and I was fairly happy with all of my patterning. I wanted it to be interesting and complex, but due to the size of the vehicle, I couldn't make them too small. I also discovered that it is hard to draw very neat lines on a model like this! I feared the later stage of lining things immensely at this point.

Next came the panel colors. This was kindof fun. I had to keep the colors fairly pastel, and also interesting. All of the paints I used here are Vallejo Game or Model color. I did some blackling as well as painting some objects like the seat, gun barrel and engine parts black for later. The colors I used for the patterns were quite varied and some mixes between the colors helped pull the scheme together I think. They included Prussian Blue, Azure, Wolf Grey, Medium Sea Grey, Intermediate Blue and White. The slightly greenish grey is Light Sea Grey. The Prussian Blue came out fairly dark, but in the end, I liked the effect,so I left it as is.

This shows someof the patterning on the top of the tail beam as well as the patterns on the "armrests" of the pilots seat.Seems quite messy at this point,and the pencil panel lines are really obscured and the panels themselves are quite rough. Again, I think of having to clean up and line all of these with vast dread.

I wanted to add something early that would bring the "Fed" aspect home, so I painted the Nacelle fronts using Scar Red and Vermilion, as well as the blue "lit" thingy on the top between the nacelles with Andrea blue. I mixed white in with both for highlighting, and just a hint of some orange for the reds.Using some Citadel Snakebite Leather, I picked out the corners above the seat, the ends of the weapon arm, the tops of the hydrofoil vents and some panels in various spots. Just added white for highlighting, and at this point, I was liking what I had done.

This is the step I hated. I would do this step before applying any color next time for sure. But then, if we don't make mistakes, we don't learn sometimes! Out came the Micron pen. I figured it would be okay, but once i started, I realised that the pen was too thick, too dark and too wobbly. I didn't know what to do all of a sudden. I tried a brush, but realised the pen was easier. So I did it all. You can see just how wobbly some areas are! After some more cursing, I knew I would have to do a LOT of touching up!

Well, cleaned up a lot. The lines are thinner, look much straighter for the most part, and I even did a little shading on the darker panels.The gun barrel was painted as black NMM as well as the exhaust ends of the nacelles. I used black, intermediate blue and wolf grey for highlighting, keeping the barrel looking as a metal cylinder, and the exhausts having the same highlight coming from the same direction. I edged the exhausts and moved on to the seat, usign the same colors and making it a black leather seat. Only thing left on the ship was the marshamallow pads or whatnot around the edge of the main body. I had used these for holding the ship until the end, so I had to paint the base up and attach it.

The Base

I basically used a mix of Turquoise and Prussian Blue for the base colors.

I slowly added white for the highlights, and foaming effect. I wanted the base to be water as opposed to dust, picturing my pilot zooming down a river channel or something. Once complete, I added more depth to the water by mixing a little black in with the turquoise color and shading the deepest spots in the waves and underneath.

I superglued the model onto the base, and painted the edge wedges using a blended gradation from Intermediate blue at the top, through Wolf Grey to White around the edge. Lastly, I had to paint the Starfleet Logo on the front of the ship, and give it a registry number. I tried the writing 3 times and I think it got messier each time, so I finally took what I had! NX was for experimental craft, and the 42 is, well, the answer..... :D

The Pilot

First thing you see is that I have primed him black. Yes. Black is the way. I tried white on the ship, as well as some other projects, and though it was the right thing to do for the ship, I had nothing but hassles with the other figures. So black. Also, I use a small vice to hold the figure easily. I can set the vice across something when I am not working on the figure, as well as using it as a stand for the pictures by laying it across a spray can lid and rotating the pics 90 degrees after. Kept them all the same size and focus!

The face was okay to paint except for the eyes. They are not sculpted well at all, and with the cap being pulled so low, it was quite hard to make out the details. At least he has them. I started by base coloring his face with Dwarf Skin, and then applying a few layers of shading by mixing some chocolate brown in. I painted the eye sockets chocolate brown as best as I could make them out, and then painted the eyeballs white. The eyes were dotted with the Mircron pen (my friend again) and I began highlighting by mixing Flat Flesh in and then white.

The arms were painted the same as the face, and the muscles shaded nicely with the darker mix.Also painted his hair with Chocolate Brown, mixing some Bonewhite in for highlights. I painted the standard issue Federation Side Burn on the exposed side of his face (the other has the headphone piece).

The uniform I liked was the one in Star Trek III that a certain security guard wore in the "mental institute" that was McCoy's home. Remember? Sulu said "Keeping you busy?" and the ham-fisted guy stood up, towering over Sulu and said, "Don't get smart, tiny"... just before Sulu opened a can of whup-ass on him? Well that was the general idea I wanted. A light blue grey and white and black acoutrements. The white parts, like the shirt, pantleg pouches, hat brim and shoulder pads were painted using chocolate brown, bone white and white. The uniform itself was a mix of Azure and Wolf grey, then highlighted up by adding white.

All of the leather, boots, gloves and belt was painted the same as the seat on the craft. Using the greys to highlight. Last but not least came the belt buckle, handles and cap logo. I used snakebite leather to make NMM gold on them, highlighting with white. I wanted to put his Fed Logo on his chest, but the lapel seemed wrong, and there was no room beside or above it, so on the cap it went! The boots are steel toed, and done in dark NMM. I gave him a good spray, cut the tab off, fixed the boots and then we were done!

Finished Pictures

Portside, Forward

Portside, Aft

Starboard, Aft

Starboard, Forward

Forward

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