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My Daughter's Second Build - 1/76 Spitfire Diorama


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In October 2013, my 3 year 11 month old daughter started her first plastic kit; a Red Arrows Hawk. It was completed in March 2014 with guidance from me, but much of the work done by her ( The build is here - http://www.arcforums.com/forums/air/index.php?showtopic=270999&hl ), and here's the finished Hawk.

 

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A year later, and with the dark nights coming fast, I decided it was time for another build; but this time, a little more ambitious. She's almost 5 now, so I decided for a second build, we would go for a diorama. I'll be following the same workplan as with the Hawk, building in half to three quarter hour sessions when her mood and concentration is right.

I opted for the Airfix RAF Battle of Britain set as the price was reasonable and the aircraft, tankers, figures and base could each be separate projects, or all worked on while glue and paint dried on other parts. The aircraft won't be BoB colours however, as my daughter wanted a pink aeroplane, so this is going to be a PR Pink Spitfire. We went to the model shop this morning, and fortunately they had the set in stock. We came home with a big box, some extra paint and a happy child.

 

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We were going out on Saturday afternoon, but had some time to fill after getting home from the shop and before lunch. The first step was to give the parts a quick wash, or not so quick with the rubbery plastic the figures are made from.

Next came painting of the inside of the fuselage, seat, floor, pilot and prop. All the paint tins were Blu-tacked down to the board so they didn't get tipped over. You can see the concentration in the first picture!

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All done, drying and happy.

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The figures were given a first coat of blue paint. They may need another, as the tin was brand new and it's very thin. The solvent hasn't had time to evaporate out, so thickening up the paint. The rubbery figures are horrible to work with and I don't know why Airfix continues to use this flexible plastic for figures. The figures supplied as part of the original fuel tanker kits ( and other Airfix vehicle kits ) are normal styrene, so are all pilot figures in kits, so why do they continue with the rubbery stuff? It's hard to trim flash off, the figures can't be modified, and the paint often flakes off if they bend at all.

 

We won't be using all the figures in this diorama, and probably only one of the tankers. The spares can go towards a future build. After this it was lunch, then we were out most of the afternoon, just leaving time for a second coat of green inside the cockpit.

pink_spit_005.jpg

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The figures are old: they are moulded in soft plastic mainly because that's the history of such figures. One reason for this is because the flexibility allows slightly easier release from the tooling and hence a little more latitude in the design. I understand that a change to hard plastic would require either more complex tools or simpler shapes - and additional cost.

Similarly, the QL bowser is in post-war trim rather than being retooled to an earlier standard - but they were too late for the BoB anyway! Not that this should worry your daughter, but you may run a little short of pink subjects.

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.....a change to hard plastic would require either more complex tools or simpler shapes....

Judging by the amount of flash, they need new tooling anyway. The old figures have been going 40 plus years, so I think it's time for a change.

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We didn't spend all of today working on the model, but hopped on and off the project between other craft activities and a couple of films. Painting of the base was started. The thin vac-forming will be glued to a wooden base, but for now is still separate. The moulding is quite crude, and if I were doing this diorama myself, I'd be scratch building it all. Particularly annoying are the huge ( tar? ) ridges between the concrete slabs in the dispersal, but I'm sure my daughter wouldn't care less. So it will do for us, though with a little work to improve it.

 

The green being painted in the photo will be an undercoat for texture added later. I don't like model railroading grass powders, and have found fine sand gives a much nicer effect. So when the time comes, the grassed areas will be covered in sand to be painted later. I'll probably also open up the entrance to the shelters within the blast wall, so will need some styrene floor adding once this is cut open.

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After the prop, pilot, seat and floor were assembled, the fuselage sides and tailplanes were cut and trimming started. I double sided some fine sand paper to a piece of styrene for a small sanding card so she could clean up the sprue cuts. Here, the tailplane halves are being sanded.

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By tea time, the pilot was installed and the fuselage halves joined. The airframe engineer gives the model a quick engine test.

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Done for the day, as the solvent glue dries. The only other progress was that she asked me to do more painting of the figures, so I did all the boots and shoes. I think painting small bits like that on more than one figure was a bit daunting. This is however, a joint quality time project for us both, so I expected to be doing some bits for her.

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After tea, I had a bit of a clear up, as wifey is expected home soon. She's been to London for the weekend with a load of Girl Guides, so I expect she'll be glad to get home for a rest, and won't want to find the dining room converted to a second workshop!

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We managed some more progress on the Spitfire yesterday after school. We got the wing parts cut out and sanded to fit correctly, and painted the blast walls in PVA glue and coated in fine sand to give a nicer texture. That may still need additional sand to fill any bald spots and a dilute coat of PVA to seal it. The lower wing surface wasn't a great fit on the fuselage, so the front was glued and left to dry before the rear was glued and clamped. It took a little over an hour to set up and get that work done, after which I decided that was enough concentration for her after a busy day at school.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

With the wifey busy with a mock accountancy exam, it was daddy day care this afternoon, so after some time with the Lego, it was time for my daughter to do some more of the Spitfire. We started with adding the top wing skins......

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......then moved on to painted some of the small parts, such as tyres, landing gear legs, exhausts etc.

pink_spit_014.jpg

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While they were drying, we turned to the base, using household emulsion touch up paint to cover the sand, previously glued on the embankments. Two shades of green and brown were used, mixing them on the model to create a mottled grass/earth look.

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The last job for the afternoon was to attach the tailplanes. This should leave the Spitfire ready for a light sand here and there next time, and then the PR pink can be applied.

pink_spit_016.jpg

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We've already talked about making a little model railroad when she's a bit older, and that way we can build stations, farms, hills, trees etc, and run a small train around. A far better interactive toy than a phone, tablet or games machine!

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I think that is a super idea! With a model railway there are so many different aspects of modelling she's sure to find something that really catches her interest, be it the building or the scenery or whatever!

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  • 3 weeks later...

It has been raining all day today, so after watching some disney films this morning, we got the Spitfire out to do a little more. After a little sanding of seams ( daddy's bit ), out came the pink paint for the PR Spit. It was only half an hours work, painting the upper surfaces which are now drying before we can do any more.

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This picture shows the drying Spit along with the base which we were painting last time. I need to find some wood to glue this down to, before we do any further work on this.

pink_spit_018.jpg

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  • 2 months later...

Another long pause on the project, but it's so busy when you're 5 years old!! After school and a short play in the park yesterday, we came home to do some decalling.

It had been a long time since we did the Red Arrows Hawk, but I was sure she would manage. I held the Spitfire still while she dunked the decals in the water until they were loose. Then using a small paint brush, she gently held the decal still as she pulled out the backing paper, just needing a little help with the location, at least to start with!

We weren't too fussed about the roundels being the correct style, and used a combination of kit decals and some from the spares box. The bottom of the wings came first as a practice in case it went wrong, then the top before a pause to let them dry in place a little while. Then came the centre red dot.

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Edited by Army_Air_Force
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