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Pretty In… Mauve!

Building the New Vulcan Shuttle, Straight from the Box!

E. James Small

(Note: Although this article covers the building of a specific kit, the techniques shown here are fairly universal for all styrene plastic kits)

First, full disclosure:

I am a professional freelance model maker hired for many build-ups, but NOT an employee of Round 2. I was indeed involved somewhat in the new re-release of this kit. Therefore I must state that my bias should be taken into account by the reader. I also have a bit of a soft spot for this particular model!

All previous releases of this 1979 AMT kit were, shall we say, less than “stellar”, from the quickly done, uninspiring box art which featured a poorly retouched photo of the studio model printed in the wrong gold colour, the kit itself moulded in a really boring white plastic, nothing much for decals or painting guide and worthless and completely inaccurate “docking plates” between the crew module and the warp sled.

With these things in mind, I can really understand the previous lack of interest in this kit.

But now, all that has changed… for the better… MUCH better! Round 2 have decided to seriously rejuvenate the kit, and they went all-out with a plethora of major improvements!

Improvements abound!

The warp sled and crew module have been re-tooled to more closely match the original filming miniature with accurate docking points and corrected warp engine grilles. Magnets have been added so the module can be attached and detached realistically! A complete set of very accurate decals to simulate the panelling over the entire ship have been added along with symbols and names for two Federation and three Vulcan variants! The kit has also been moulded in the actual colour that the studio miniature was painted, and as originally designed by conceptual artist Andrew Probert, so beginners or people who don’t like to paint can build a very authentic replica with minimal work! The box art even sports a brand new illustration by Probert himself! The kit also contains an all new multi-position display stand with a ball-and-socket joint and solid steel chrome-plated prop rod! Even the instruction sheets were completely re-done with a lot of new illustrations, tips and tricks to help the beginning modeller as well as useful stuff for experienced builders.

The kit has been improved so much that I’m going to prove to you what can be done with it using minimal equipment and painting, which is ideal for the modeller who has limited resources or budget. You’ll still need that patience, of course! That’s a given with all model building, but I’ll try to make it as easy and fun as possible! Just to let you know, the model built as shown here was done over the equivalent of about three or four evenings.

Basic Gluing and Trimming.

The nice thing about a kit like this, with comprehensive decals and moulded in the correct colour is that you don’t really have to go all out with fancy building techniques and expensive painting equipment. Just simple gluing and some minor painting techniques can result in a really beautiful job! Let’s walk through it.

First, following the instructions, glue all the sub assemblies together. When removing the parts from the sprue, do not bend or twist them off. Cut them off with a hobby knife, then file or sand away the nub that’s left on the part.

Make sure you glue the magnets in place on the crew module’s inside bottom surface (part 17) and the sled’s docking surface (part 10) before gluing those parts in place on the sled or the crew module!

Note: The magnets cannot be held with regular plastic model cement, so you must use superglue or epoxy. Important! Pay close attention to the magnet polarities so they attract each other rather than repel! When you glue the magnets in place, do so while holding parts 10 and 17 together they way they would be when “docked”, then put the magnets into the recesses. They will automatically “seat” themselves, and should be obvious if they are positioned right.

The best kind of glue to use for the rest of the model is the watery-thin plastic model cement that comes in a bottle with a built-in brush, like Testor’s Liquid Plastic Model Cement. First, test fit the parts and then trim away anything that keeps them from fitting snugly together. Then while holding the parts together, apply a generous amount of glue along the joint every inch or two. Capillary action will carry the glue around the joint. Now, press the parts together until the melted plastic and glue squeezes out of the joint....

 Do not wipe off the bead!

 You’ll trim it off later, after it dries. Doing this will insure a very solid “welded” bond and also help hide the seams and avoid puttying when you finish the model, as this “ooze” acts as a kind of ready made filler. Be careful not to let the glue touch your fingers.

One the glue has been applied, you can use clamps, clothes pins, rubber bands or tape to hold the parts together until they dry in a few hours or overnight.

If you accidentally spill any glue somewhere it’s not supposed to be...

...don’t panic, but don’t wipe it off either.

Wiping it will only roughen the dissolved plastic and make it worse. Just don’t touch the surface, but allow it to dry for a few hours. You can sand it down later, or, it will simply disappear by the time the model is coated with the decals and dulling spray.

When the subassemblies are done and dry, you can begin to trim the joints. Several methods work, depending on the surface. You can “carve” the joint down with your hobby knife... can also use the edge of the blade as a scraper to remove the flash....

....or you can finish it up with a flat mill file...

Finish up with wet sandpaper or foam sanding blocks.

Wet sanding keeps the paper from clogging and produces a smoother finish. When these techniques are used, the joints will practically disappear...

...and be quite presentable without puttying!


Normally, spraying the entire model with a base coat of paint in the correct colour is necessary. But because this kit is already moulded in the Mauve colour (painstakingly researched to match the studio model!), you don’t have to paint the whole thing, just a few detail areas, which can be done nicely with standard bottle-and-brush hobby paints. As long as you’re not building the “Federation” version which requires the whole ship be painted light gray, you’ll only need some black and purplish-blue paint as indicated in the instructions. You won’t need the “sand” colour as indicated, because Round 2 has thoughtfully included the skid colours as decals too!

Another really nice thing about detail painting a model when the overall colour is already done for you is that mistakes...

...are very easily corrected. For this reason I highly recommend the use of acrylic based paints, such as the excellent Tamiya brand or Testor’s Model Master Acryl instead of enamels or lacquers. Acrylic paints can be very easily wiped off with a rag or Q-tip dampened with Methyl Hydrate or ordinary rubbing alcohol ...

...which does not damage plastic. Because the main colour is the plastic itself, you don’t have to worry about rubbing off the base colour!

You can also use the tip of your knife blade to GENTLY scrape away paint from the edges of some of the harder to get at areas.

The only areas you have to paint are shown here.

 I hand painted the black and sprayed the blue in this case, but you can hand paint the blue too with equally good results. The rest of the decoration is done with the extensive decals supplied with the kit.

Now you need to make a decision based on your comfort level. You can now decal the model as per the instructions while the model is still in sub assembly state, or you can assemble the model completely and then put the decals on. I did the latter, as I find it easier to handle the model as whole when applying decals than to risk damaging the applied decal work while gluing the rest of the model together. This makes it a bit tougher to put the decals on the insides of the nacelles, but it’s not that hard to do. Think it through and do whatever you feel comfortable with.

Either way, you will have a slight oversight to correct before gluing the warp engine nacelles to the sled or applying any decals. The new re-tooling of the improved and correctly deeper nacelle grilles increased some of the “meat” under the slots where the sled’s locating tabs insert, blocking proper clearance. These tabs need to be trimmed down a bit to fit properly. Use a file, sanding block or your knife to trim away the inside surfaces as shown until the nacelles fit correctly against the sled ...