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dmk0210

MPC R2D2 Build

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This is the MPC R2D2 kit. 1/7 scale I believe. Hope nobody minds me posting it here instead of the "in-progress" forum. Just seems to fit here better.

My intent is to build this to represent R2D2 as he appeared in Episode IV "A new Hope" (The original movie that started to Star Wars franchise in the late 70s). Now R2 was actually represented by a number of different props (three I believe) and they did have noticeable differences, but I have a hard time telling which is which from every angle. So instead of sorting that out, mine will be a composite of the props used in that movie.

2012-08-04184242.jpg

The kit is pretty nice actually, but has a few issues that I hope to correct. First thing is strip off the chrome plating. R2 is a worker droid. He has no chrome bling. :)

2012-08-04184310.jpg

I soaked the whole tree in Purple Power.

2012-08-04185143.jpg

2012-08-04184332.jpg

It completely stripped the chrome in 24 hours, but there was a brown residue left in the nooks and crannies, so I left it soak for a week, scrubbing it with a toothbrush every few days.

2012-08-14185951.jpg

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This is going to be an interesting build to watch. I'm curious to see what some of the kit's issues are. R2-D2 was my favorite character when I was a kid so I can't wait to see your progress on this kit.

Mike.

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I'm diffently going to watch this! Been sitting on one of these kits for a very long time and hoping to build it one day. Good luck with your build!

Robert

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Thanks guys. Hope you enjoy.

Did a little work on R2s head today.

MPC instructs you to surface mount the projector lenses, but I think they would look a little better inserted from the inside, so I drilled three holes for them in the front, top and rear. I also drilled small holes for two bumps (sensors I guess) in the rear. I'll insert some stretched sprue with the ends rounded off in these holes later. Then I cut apart the blue sections to make it easier to fit them properly.

There are some rectangular recesses (two small ones in the front and a single long one in the rear) that were represented by raised lines on the blue panels. I cut these out very carefully by scoring with an exacto knife and filing smooth. The clear blue plastic is very hard and brittle, so it was a bit difficult, but I only had one chip off an edge that I need to fix. I'll put some plastic card inside to give it depth and add some detail in there later.

After that, I sanded off all the raised lines off the dome and blue panels which didn't exist on the 'real' R2. It was pretty smooth with recessed lines.

The bezel around his main eye was too wide, so I narrowed it on both sides and improved the detail on the right side with some plastic card. I also added the missing section on the bottom where the card slot is (where Princess Lea inserts the Death Star plans in the beginning of the movie). I'll scribe that slot in later once the glue cures.

Finally, I drilled out one of the projectors so I can add a clear lens in. Two of the three have poorly molded details, so I'm going to try to cast the good one and make two duplicates.

2012-08-18191752.jpg

Edited by dmk0210

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A little more work this morning.

The 'face' is a bit inaccurate on the model. Here is what R2 should look like:

vidcap-R2-04.jpg

MPC however gives you a solid panel with the eye and bezel and a decal to go underneath that to represent the red "mood light".

I cut out the eye (so it doesn't get damaged) and glued the remains of the blue panel in. I plan to fill the seam around it, and scribe in the two blue panels underneath the eye bezel. I'll drill out the mood light and put a clear lens in there, probably colored with Tamiya blue and red clear acrylics.

2012-08-19111322.jpg

Edited by dmk0210

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Speaking of filling seams and re-scribing...

One of my rituals when I start a kit is to create some putty from the sprues.

It's easy to do. Just chop up the sprue into little bits with a cutter, put it in a paint jar and cover the bits with solvent. Put the cap on, let it sit a few hours and it's ready to use. If it dries out and gets too gummy, just add more solvent.

The reason for this is to have filler that is the same hardness as the surrounding plastic, making scribing easier when crossing or working along filled seams.

2012-08-19112757.jpg

Edited by dmk0210

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I'm curious to see what some of the kit's issues are.

The most obvious inaccuracy (arguably) is the orientation of the six blue panels near the top of R2's dome. On the kit one of the panels is centered directly above the "eye", but on the actual R2s it's one of the separations between these panels that is centered above the "eye"; you can see this by comparing the photos in post #6. Another is the bottom edge of the dome itself. On the kit it's beveled/angled; on the actual R2s this surface is straight, in line with R2's body shell. Also, some of the various fittings on R2's body are simplified, the dimensions of the tripod leg and the sculpt of the tripod foot are off, and the angle of R2's body when the tripod leg is deployed is too shallow. There are probably others, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment.

Regardless, of the three Star Wars styrene figure kits produced by MPC, R2 is by far the best and most of the kit's dimensions are so close to being spot-on that they're not worth modifying. Although it's been a lot of years since I've built one, I don't remember having any real issues with regards to parts fitting together. It's one of MPC's best engineered Star Wars kits in my opinion and, built out of the box with no modifications, most people wouldn't notice the inaccuracies I mentioned above.

That said, I'm looking forward to seeing what dmk0210 does with this build; R2 was always one of my favorite characters as well.

Edited by Zombie_61

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The most obvious inaccuracy (arguably) is the orientation of the six blue panels near the top of R2's dome. On the kit one of the panels is centered directly above the "eye", but on the actual R2s it's one of the separations between these panels that is centered above the "eye"; you can see this by comparing the photos in post #6. Another is the bottom edge of the dome itself. On the kit it's beveled/angled; on the actual R2s this surface is straight, in line with R2's body shell. Also, some of the various fittings on R2's body are simplified, the dimensions of the tripod leg and the sculpt of the tripod foot are off, and the angle of R2's body when the tripod leg is deployed is too shallow. There are probably others, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment.

Regardless, of the three Star Wars styrene figure kits produced by MPC, R2 is by far the best and most of the kit's dimensions are so close to being spot-on that they're not worth modifying. Although it's been a lot of years since I've built one, I don't remember having any real issues with regards to parts fitting together. It's one of MPC's best engineered Star Wars kits in my opinion and, built out of the box with no modifications, most people wouldn't notice the inaccuracies I mentioned above.

That said, I'm looking forward to seeing what dmk0210 does with this build; R2 was always one of my favorite characters as well.

It just amazes me when a detail as obvious as the panels above the 'eye' is incorrect. For crying out loud, did any of the kit's designers even look at the pictures of R2?! :doh:

However I didn't even notice this until you pointed it out. It does look like a real nice detailed kit.

BTW, does this kit come with decals?

Mike.

Edited by crowe-t

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It just amazes me when a detail as obvious as the panels above the 'eye' is incorrect. For crying out loud, did any of the kit's designers even look at the pictures of R2?! :doh:

As I understand it, the accuracy issues with all of the Star Wars kits produced by MPC, AMT/Ertl, and Revell of Germany were due to licensing stipulations. When MPC was developing their first kits in the 70s Lucasfilm provided reference material that wasn't completely accurate to what was seen on screen in the finished film(s). Unfortunately, MPC/AMT/Ertl were contractually obligated to design their kits based on the inaccurate reference materials provided and weren't allowed to make any "improvements". Allegedly, when Revell of Germany began developing their own line of Star Wars kits some years ago, Lucasfilm provided the same inaccurate reference material and, again, RoG was not allowed to make any changes. This explains why the RoG kits from the Original Trilogy films contain many of the same inaccuracies as their MPC/AMT/Ertl counterparts; the overly-tall sidewalls on their Millennium Falcon kit, for example. I have no idea whether or not this is true, but it's the most commonly given explanation on the 'Net and, to me, it sounds reasonable.

Of course, this doesn't explain why Fine Molds' Original Trilogy model kits were far more accurate. Reportedly they were given full access to "the vaults" and the original filming models, and allowed to take as many measurements and photographs as they deemed necessary to give their kits a much higher degree of accuracy. Why Fine Molds and not RoG? I think only George Lucas has the answer to that.

Regardless, I agree with you Mike. It seems to me, limitations of injection molding and licensing issues aside, that it takes as much time and effort to get it right as it does to get it wrong, so why not get it right? Considering Star Wars is George Lucas' "baby", if I was him it wouldn't matter what the product was--a poster, an action figure, a tee shirt, a model kit, whatever--I'd want it to be the best representation of my product possible. But then, I'm not in the movie tie-in merchandising business, so there are probably issues associated with that I've never even considered.

BTW, the kit comes with stickers, not decals. It was originally marketed for "young modelers", and I would imagine they wanted to make it as easy as possible for kids to assemble.

Edited by Zombie_61

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Zombie, This all makes sense to me too! And thanks for the info on the kit's stickers.

Mike.

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The most obvious inaccuracy (arguably) is the orientation of the six blue panels near the top of R2's dome. On the kit one of the panels is centered directly above the "eye", but on the actual R2s it's one of the separations between these panels that is centered above the "eye"; you can see this by comparing the photos in post #6.
I noticed that, but I'm not sure how to fix it. In theory, I could slice off the top and rotate it. But I'm not sure of how I can make a nice straight and even cut on a dome.
Another is the bottom edge of the dome itself. On the kit it's beveled/angled; on the actual R2s this surface is straight, in line with R2's body shell.
This is another tricky fix. The head doesn't quite match the body in diameter. But I can at least sand down the raised edge to make it a more subtle transition.

BTW, the kit comes with stickers, not decals. It was originally marketed for "young modelers", and I would imagine they wanted to make it as easy as possible for kids to assemble.

That's incorrect actually. Mine has actual decals for the "mood light" in the front, the blue sections on the legs and the arms. I believe the first issue of this kit had stickers (but except for that and the box art is otherwise identical).

IMGMedium.jpg

Edited by dmk0210

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That's incorrect actually. Mine has actual decals for the "mood light" in the front, the blue sections on the legs and the arms. I believe the first issue of this kit had stickers (but except for that and the box art is otherwise identical).

Really? Thanks for correcting me. I've only built this kit once (so far) and that was the original 1979 "Star Wars" issue of the kit; I'd never heard it came with proper decals.

Al

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I noticed that, but I'm not sure how to fix it. In theory, I could slice off the top and rotate it. But I'm not sure of how I can make a nice straight and even cut on a dome.

This is another tricky fix. The head doesn't quite match the body in diameter. But I can at least sand down the raised edge to make it a more subtle transition.

Maybe if the top of the dome is cut at the bottom of each of the 6 (blue) panel separations lines, but those cuts would have to be extremely precise which works out better in theory. It might work better to leave it alone. I hadn't even noticed this inaccuracy before.

It looks like sanding down the dome's raised edge should do the trick.

BTW, is the diameter of the dome much different then the body's diameter?

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Really? Thanks for correcting me. I've only built this kit once (so far) and that was the original 1979 "Star Wars" issue of the kit; I'd never heard it came with proper decals.

I thought it had stickers too. I was surprised when I saw the decals in the box.

I'm not going to use them, but scanned a copy to use as paint mask templates.

Stickers would have actually better for me, I could have just peeled out the stickers and would have had a ready made mask.

Edited by dmk0210

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Maybe if the top of the dome is cut at the bottom of each of the 6 (blue) panel separations lines, but those cuts would have to be extremely precise which works out better in theory. It might work better to leave it alone. I hadn't even noticed this inaccuracy before.

Actually, I was thinking about this in the shower this morning. If I can figure a way to get a scriber or exacto knife solidly supported at the correct height, I can just twist the dome around on a flat surface and scribe a deep line all the way around. I can then use this as a guide for my UMM razor saw.

It looks like sanding down the dome's raised edge should do the trick.

BTW, is the diameter of the dome much different then the body's diameter?

Yes, there is a step at the bottom of the dome. Unfortunately I can't just sand the raised edge down because it is offset on the inside. I would sand the whole piece off if I tried. The dome gets attached to a spacer that is also wider than the body and tapers down. I'll have to think on this a bit. I may be able to cut some circles from plastic sheet and stack them to form a new spacer that is the proper diameter and height.

Times like this I wish I had a lathe.

2012-08-20080759.jpg

Edited by dmk0210

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I am very interested in watching your build of R2. I built one of these when I was a kid and would like to build another some day.

Once I saw someone who needed to get a cut on a rounded object use a phone book to hold a box cutter blade. He put the object on a table and then flipped through the phone book until he had the right amount of pages to get the exact height that he needed for the cut. Put the blade in the book, closed the book and and put pressure on it so that the blade would not move. He then just turned the object against the blade until it scribed a line for him. Then he used that line as a guide to cut the object. Sorry that my explanation is a bit confusing but it worked really well.

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Once I saw someone who needed to get a cut on a rounded object use a phone book to hold a box cutter blade. He put the object on a table and then flipped through the phone book until he had the right amount of pages to get the exact height that he needed for the cut. Put the blade in the book, closed the book and and put pressure on it so that the blade would not move. He then just turned the object against the blade until it scribed a line for him. Then he used that line as a guide to cut the object. Sorry that my explanation is a bit confusing but it worked really well.

That sounds like exactly what I need to do. Thanks for the tip. Your explanation wasn't confusing at all. :)

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Great build so far! Can't wait to see as it progresses. One idea for the dome panels is to maybe leave the frames that are there at first. Then use some styrene strips of the same width and put them where the panel seperations should be. Then once you get the new frames all in the corrected location and are happy with it, you can remove the original strips without having to fret about being too precise. The tricky part would be getting the curve right, but then blue panels should help with that once they are in place. At least in theory that would work. Just a thought.

Bill

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Yes, there is a step at the bottom of the dome. Unfortunately I can't just sand the raised edge down because it is offset on the inside. I would sand the whole piece off if I tried. The dome gets attached to a spacer that is also wider than the body and tapers down. I'll have to think on this a bit. I may be able to cut some circles from plastic sheet and stack them to form a new spacer that is the proper diameter and height.

Times like this I wish I had a lathe.

Maybe you can glue some strip styrene on the inside before sanding down the raised edge. It might at least solve that problem.

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Got the top of the dome sliced off. Wasn't very difficult at all.

2012-08-20212056.jpg

Just clamped my exacto in a small machinists vice I picked up cheap at a local tool sale. I set the dome on a thin book to raise it the proper height and then turned it to scribe a groove all the way around.

The only problem I had was I first tried turning the dome counterclockwise to use the sharp side of the blade. The edge wandered up the slope of the dome giving me a wobbly line. So then I twisted the dome counter-clockwise so that I was using the back edge of the blade. That worked much better and gave me a nice straight groove. Once I got the groove scribed very deep, I went back clockwise again and used the sharp edge with the scribed groove as a guide to cut through the last little bit.

2012-08-20212120.jpg

Kind of reminds me of some of those gross scenes in House MD where he chops a patient's head open. :o

Edited by dmk0210

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Dave,

I'm really glad to see you cut the top of the dome off and will be repositioning it in the correct position. That was a great idea putting the knife in the vice to make the cut. It looks perfect. :thumbsup:

What paints/colors will you be using on this build?

Will you be re-painting the blue areas?

Mike.

Edited by crowe-t

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Dave,

I'm really glad to see you cut the top of the dome off and will be repositioning it in the correct position. That was a great idea putting the knife in the vice to make the cut. It looks perfect. :thumbsup:

Thanks. I'm just glad that was as easy as it was. It will definitely be an improvement B)
What paints/colors will you be using on this build?

Will you be re-painting the blue areas?

2012-08-21185003.jpg

We're getting a little ahead of ourselves, but here are the paints I plan to use.

Testors De Ja Blue Lacquer

Alclad White Aluminum Lacquer

Testors Flat White Enamel

Testors Gloss Cote Clear Lacquer

Tamiya Gray Fine Surface Primer (Lacquer I believe).

Not pictured:

Testors Gloss Black Enamel

Tamiya Clear Acrylics, X-19 Smoke, X-23 Blue, X-24 Yellow, and X-27 Red, (very handy paints these are!) to tint the lenses of the eye and mood lights.

Edited by dmk0210

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This might not be the best time to mention it, but you'd better use a good non-lacquer primer on all of the kit parts before you use those lacquer paints. As I understand it, lacquer is too "hot" for styrene and can "craze" (cause a network of fine cracks on the surface of) the plastic. While I'm at it, you're not supposed to use lacquer-based paints over enamel-based paints for the same reason.

Also, unless you're planning to trim all of the transparent carrier film from those decals, you should use gloss paints for your basecoats. Just in case you don't already know, flat paints create an irregular surface, which is why they don't reflect light the same way gloss paints do, and this irregular surface creates microscopic air pockets between the paint and the decals, causing "silvering" (the transparent carrier film being visible). After the decals are applied to a gloss surface, you can use a clear flat coat to dull the shine. I only mention this because you listed "flat white" as one of the paints you're planning to use, and I thought I'd try to help you avoid a potential problem.

Edited by Zombie_61

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This might not be the best time to mention it, but you'd better use a good non-lacquer primer on all of the kit parts before you use those lacquer paints. As I understand it, lacquer is too "hot" for styrene and can "craze" (cause a network of fine cracks on the surface of) the plastic. While I'm at it, you're not supposed to use lacquer-based paints over enamel-based paints for the same reason.

Don't worry. Lacquer's not going to be a problem. I use it all the time. ;)

I also spray Dull Cote, Gloss Cote and Alclad over Enamels. Yes it against against recommended practice, but if you are careful and let the enamel cure (not just dry), it will work fine.

Watch the thread. We are going to use all three types of paints on this kit. I'll show how I do it. :)

Edited by dmk0210

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