Completed Builds Scifi Star Wars

Bandai 1/72 B-Wing Fighter: To B, Or Not To B…

You don’t need to read my blog often to know that fun is a huge focus for me. When I tell folks “if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong”, I really mean it. Certainly not every step may be fun, but I feel if the overall “fun” average isn’t well above the halfway mark, you may need to reexamine things.

Part of the appeal for fun is how it reconnects me with my childhood modeling days. One of my most cherished memories is sitting in a utility room off of our carport when we lived in Tallahassee, Florida. My dad had set up one end of the room for my model building. The space was about 4 feet wide, and maybe 6 feet long. He’d built a folding desk for me that I could lower down, and pulling a stool up to it, sit and while away the hours.

In the winter I froze. In the summer I literally had drops of sweat pouring from my nose on to the models I built. At night in the summer, gobs of bugs would swarm in around my little lamp light, but I didn’t care. I loved building models. And having little knowledge of “accuracy”, or advanced modeling techniques, I was quite pleased to simply paint the basic colors on – carefully of course – glue things together, and set it on my shelf. Most every model was a joy to build, too. Now and again I’d run into something frustrating, but for the most part, it was all fun.

As an adult modeler, I’ve gone through several stages. Through it all, though, I feel as if I’ve come full circle. I simply want to have fun, thank you. 

Sunset On A Fun Build

After getting the decals and panel lining finished, it was time for the weatherings. As I’ve been doing over the last few models, I chose to use various Vallejo acrylic weathering products. While the application is different from oils and enamels, I like the fast drying time they offer. It works with the pace at which I build. 

A few people have asked me how I compare them to oils and enamels. I suppose the best way to start that answer is to say “they’re different”. For the most part, they simply don’t work the same. They work well – but differently. While the oils and enamels are generally applied with a subtractive process, acrylics are an additive process. And while there are many, many tutorials and videos about oil/enamel weathering, there are far fewer about acrylic weathering. (Though I know of one here… 😉 ) 

So we’ll continue to call it an ongoing experiment. I want to wring out every bit of use I can from them – more techniques in the tool box is a good thing!

First Add The Streaks

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I wanted to start the weathering proper by adding streaks and “dirt”. While I typically would add chipping first, I decided to swap the other a bit and do the chips second. I thought this would allow the chips to be a bit stronger, and not tinted by the streaked washes. I used several acrylic wash colors, all from Vallejo, including browns, light tan, gray, and blue-gray. I felt the gray and blue-gray would work in small amounts to add some tonal variety to the white.

Each was applied both thinned and neat using a #0 liner brush. The streaks were focused in the direction of flight, both to simulate how I imagine a space fighter might look, and also to impart some sense of motion to it. I worked with the browns first, then the tan, gray, and blue-gray, each color being used in smaller amounts.

Some Other Abuse

I also used the washes to add some light stains, representing anything from fluid stains to splatters from exploding TIE fighters. Simply touching the brush to the surface in a stippling motion allows some simple but effective stains to be quickly added. I felt it was especially effective to use multiple colors in the same area, as this imparted more depth to the overall finish.

I think that is the key to any weathering, especially the stains and streaks. Layers of color, even in very subtle amounts, give a great “weight” to the object, helping to transform it from “toy” to selling the notion of reality.

If any cleanup is need for the streaks and stains, a quick cleanup with a brush or cotton bud dampened with Vallejo Airbrush Thinner will clean things up. Because the model had been sealed with an acrylic gloss coat, the paint underneath was safe.

On With The Chips

With the streaks and stains sorted out, I moved on to the chips. I decided I wanted to go “partial canon” with this step.

I’ve read, and been told by folks who are smart on Star Wars/ILM lore, that most of the chipping was focused on the colored bits of the  Rebel fighters. The chipping was done in white. I suppose the idea was to simulate how it would look had the stripes and other colors been painted over white. So I wanted to represent that.

Of course, being a model, it’s required by UN treaty to be chipped all over. Otherwise the risk of online ridicule is high. 🙂

So I decided the white areas would receive chips of a darker brown. I like using this for white (and other lighter colors) because it can suggest anything from dark primer underneath, a special composite material, or even rust.

Bring Out The Sponge

I’ve really started to favor the sponge method for applying chips as my first choice “go to”. It’s very controllable, suitably random, and easily applied. The amount of chipping can be easily built up, so evaluation of the amount across the model is easy. Plus, I think it just looks good.

The blue and orange areas of the model were chipped with Vallejo Mecha Color Offwhite, one of my favorite colors from that range. It’s not quite white, but not really light gray either. By itself, it doesn’t look dingy, yet has enough “off” to it so that when white is used around it, the white really pops as a highlight.

That’s really my test for an “off white” color. By itself, it should look white. Yet when viewed next to a pure white, the difference is immediate. Vallejo’s color is perfect for that.

I tried to not go too heavy with the white chips, though I did focus more on the leading edges of the blue areas. I imagined that these would receive more abuse, what with flying through asteroids debris, space dust, Imperial spaceship chunks, and the ever-growing number of Death Star debris fields that keep popping up. 😉

Some Other Chips

I have previously used Ammo’s Chipping color for scratches and paint dings. However, I found that Vallejo Mecha Color has a Chipping Brown color also, which is virtually the same color. I like the Vallejo product a bit better. It’s a thicker paint than Ammo’s offering, and delivers better opacity, even on very small chips.

As with the white chips, the brown versions were applied with a sponge. Leading edges received more attention, though I did try to scatter more chips about the outer surfaces generally, to simulate not only flight damage, but maintenance abuse too. Anytime equipment  is repeatedly worked on or inspected through hatches in the exterior of a vehicle, it gets some paint wear. Over time, these build up. 

And easy method for simulating this type of chipping is to mask off one side of the panel. The choice of which side is up to you, of course, though making a decision about how it is opened can inform the choice. Once masked off, chips can be applied to the unmasked area. Once the mask is removed, it can give a very nice effect. More chips can be added, which produces a nice “heavy” effect on one side, but lighter on the other side.

One Big Chip

I decided to introduce one really big chip on the left side of the lower “wing”. I’ve started liking this concept, giving some focal damage to one area. 

I began by examining the model after I was satisfied with the base level of chipping. To locate the placement for the “star” chip, I look for a pattern in the chips already applied, and see if any of those bring inspiration. I spotted a section of chips along the lower wing, and while they weren’t joined up, the placement of a few suggested a nice diagonal direction to expand. I thought it worked particularly well because it was not parallel to the direction of flight, or to any panel lines. By breaking up the flow of those two elements, it would really draw the eye. 

Part of the reason for adding this is simply that I think it looks cool. Yet it also invites the viewer to look at an element they may not initially consider. On the B-Wing, the cockpit and engine area get obvious attention, as does the odd “foot” sticking out from the bottom. So by placing such a “jarring” scratch along a surface that may not get much attention, it invites further examination.

With that “big chip” applied, a few more adjustments were made to the chipping, and I moved on.

Oil Spill On Aisle Four

For the various oil leaks, fluid stains, and hydraulic fluid outbursts, I opted for more Vallejo products, using oil, petrol, and diesel colors from their Weathering Effects line. These dry fairly fast, and are glossy. As with the streaks and other acrylic products, application is done in an additive process. 

I start with a highly thinned solution of one of the colors, and basically go around the model and look for areas of likely spills. This can be exposed piping, or emanating from a hatch, or simply flowing back from a panel line. I also look for areas to add color in ways that suggest something was spilled, rather than something leaked. These add additional visual interest, and as with the “big chip”, can be used strategically to draw the eye to a particular area or feature.

As I applied the various thinned colors, I began to switch to using unthinned product to “fill out” the areas that I’d started adding stains. Again, the initial layers of color helped to inform where additional color might look good. Certainly a stain or streak can be added where there had NOT been anything before. But using the lighter initial application as a guide can help the mind’s eye see how heavier staining will look.

As with the streaking products, Vallejo Airbrush Thinner can be used to clean up any errant stains.

Drawing In The Net

The last major weathering step was to add in some airbrush “grime”. My choice for this was a mix of Tamiya XF-69 Nato Black, and XF-9 Hull Red, in a 2-to-1 ratio. I thinned it heavily – close to 90/10 thinner to paint. 

Areas of major panel lines and sub-assembly joins were given a misting of the mix, slowly building it up until I liked how it looked. A few areas were given a heavier coating, such as aft of the blue exhaust port looking devices on the sides of the engine area, and of course the exhaust nozzles themselves – including the insides.

I also used this color to blend previous streaks, stains, chips, and other grime. A heavy application is not really needed – just enough misted over an area to simply “blur” everything together can give quite a pleasing result. I also used this color to make a few “laser burst” points… little starfish shaped patterns. As with some of the other elements, these were used not only for the “rule of cool”, but also to draw the eye around the model.

With the final stains and abuse in place, I snapped the canopy in place, adding a few sponge chips, using Vallejo Model Color Sky Gray. A final matt coat was applied with Vallejo’s Mecha Color Matt Varnish.

You Need To B Building This

This kit, of all the Bandai Star Wars “Alphabet Soup Fighters”, has been my favorite. It’s less fiddly than the Y-Wing, simpler to assemble than the X-Wing, and more visually interesting than the A-Wing. I can’t think of one thing on this build that was a problem, really. In fact, the only complaint I could raise is not the fault of Bandai, or the kit. George Lucas is solely to blame! The model has such an odd shape that it’s just a bit odd to work with. Thankfully the stand holds it firmly, and if masked off, makes a great “paint handle”.

There are plenty of kits out on the market that can bring a child-like smile back to your face. I wouldn’t for a minute try to say that this one kit is life changing, or will kickstart your waning enthusiasm (if you face that) for the hobby. But I can say that without a doubt, it’s a build worth considering for any modeler, of any genre. There’s so much to like about it. It can be painted fully and then assembled even – that’s what I did! 

I think the benefit of occasional injections of simple joy into the hobby is quite therapeutic. Bandai’s B-Wing Fighter is just such a kit. It’s like the chicken soup of the styrene world – good for what ails you.

May the fun B with you! 😉

 

 

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