In the process of writing articles for this blog, I often dig deep into my childhood memories. It’s a fascinating process for me. As I burrow down into a memory, that seems to unlock other memories. A recollection of an event will peel back the cobwebs to reveal people, places, and other events that I simply had no idea were buried down in this complicated place I call my brain.
As I pondered what to write about for this Hawk build, I focused in on a simple notion – how much I enjoyed it. As I dwelled on that, my mind turned to how much fun I had as a kid building models. Fleeting images and ideas began to well up, some familiar and some not so much. I didn’t try to grasp any of them – I’ve learned to not muzzle the process by jumping in too soon – but rather let them flow.
The process seemed to stop with a simple image in mind… a stack of model kits on a shelf. It was weird, a very clear image, but almost as if shrouded in fog. I pondered on it a moment, and then it hit me – it must have been Woolworths.
The Five And Dime
Located a few miles from my house, it carried a selection of Monogram, Revell, and who knows what other kits. On the glorious occasion my mom went to the “five and dime” as she always called it, I’d head straight for the models. The colorful boxes, stacked neatly on the shelves, always inspired awe. I could not imagine a more glorious place to work than being able to stack those kits up. I wondered if the man I saw straightening them from time to time was allowed to take a few home… that would be even better than a paycheck! 😉
Most of the time when I’d stand and stare up at the cellophane wrapped happiness, my pockets were empty. And I knew better than to ask mom to buy me one. She’d grown up as a child of the depression, and trying to pry a five or a dime from her change purse was darn nigh impossible.
Sometimes my dad could be persuaded, if I was clever enough in my justification. “We can build it together” was my main argument. I suppose he might have felt a bit guilty, or perhaps he just chuckled at my logic. But now and again his wallet would come out, and he’d hand me a magical dollar bill (and a dime for the tax) and I’d grab the $.99 kit and run to the checkout.
The best days, of course, were those special ones when I had my own money, in my pocket, ready to go. Perhaps it was a birthday present from Grandma, or a few dollars from mowing a yard or raking leaves. Most of the time I had a $5 bill with me. A few times I had $10. The jackpot of all jackpots was certainly the elusive and powerful $20.
Whatever the reality of my financial situation was on those days, it was both an exciting and difficult time. I could get whatever I wanted – but only within the limitations of my budget. Making a choice, especially after factoring in paint and glue and brushes, could be quite a challenge.
And the clock was ticking. If I had the fortune to go with my mom, time was on my side. She could happily wander around for quite a while, often to the point that I was finished and ready to go. I’d beg “Mom, let’s go. I want to get home and start building my model!”
However, if it was my dad, he usually stood in the aisle with me, occasionally looking at his watch. Spend too long, and he’d say those dreaded words – “Son, we need to go. Make a choice.” And then I’d be forced to make a choice which while certainly joy inducing – it was after all a model – it might not be totally joy inducing. These matters had to be considered carefully, you know.
Finishing The Hawk
While I’d planned to paint, decal, and weather the Hawk all in one go, and present it as a single blog entry, the matter of time… and about 200 decals… slowed me down a bit.
Early in the assembly, I’d surmised that leaving off most of the external frameworks and other bits would help with the final decal and weathering process. It turns out that was a very wise decision.
One of the beauties of this kit is the fantastic surface detail. There are loads of possibilities for weathering to any degree one pleases. However, in order to weather it, you have to get to it. So if you build this kit, here is a suggested list of sub-assemblies:
- Main fuselage with small forward wongs, and laser guns attached
- Aft engine “bulb” with rocket nozzle
- Leave off the two small “globe” greeblies
- Side booster engines
- Keep these in three pieces – nose cone, main body, and nozzle
- All other bits – all the various tubes, etc
By keeping all these sections separate, it made the weathering much simpler.
Making It Grimy
My goal was to weather this model not as shown on the TV show, but rather as if it had been a real thing, in actual use. This allowed the freedom to weather as I normally do, and simply claim “Yeah, but that’s how THIS one was…” 😉
The surface had already been gloss coated for decals, and an additional gloss coat was added to seal the massive number of decals in.
Panel lining was the first step, with Mig Productions Dark Wash being used for this. I applied it somewhat neatly, trying to keep it along panel lines and raised detail edges, but I was not overly careful to be terribly neat either. I knew there would be a cleanup stage, and I wanted that to leave some grime. If you are into “gunk washes”, I do not recommend that be used on this kit. There are so many little details on it that getting all the “gunk” off could be an exercise in futility. (Truth be told, I’m not a fan of that method anyway… but I digress. 😉 )
I started the clean up with a cotton bud in larger areas, and a dry brush in tighter ones. This removed a lot of the excess, but in a few areas, I still wanted to either blend them away, or at least shove them around a bit to look more “stainish” and not quite so much “old guy applies weathering”. The end result was a dirty look – but it still “reads” as white… not dingy light gray.
I opted for a simple application for chipping. The orange areas would be chipped white, and the white areas would be chipped with a darker color. I didn’t really apply any “in universe” thinking to the process really. Isimply chose high contrast colors because I thought they would look cool.
For the white chips, I used Vallejo Mecha Color Off White. As the model was actually not pure white (with a few exceptions), this off white color matched nicely. The process was started with some brushed on chips, using a #0 liner brush. I tried to use restraint, as I wanted it looking worn, but not beat to death.
After applying the brushed on chips, I went back in and applied the same paint with a sponge. In most areas where brushed chips had been applied, additional sponge chipping “filled out” the abuse. In other areas, only sponge chipping was used. I worked away at it until I reached a point where my weathering brain said “that’s not near enough”, and then I ignore that thought and moved on.
The same process was applied in the white areas, but Vallejo Mecha Color Chipping Brown was used. This is a darker brown that has just a bit of red to it, so it can pass for worn metal, advanced space composites, or just plain old chips with no thought of the underlying material.
I went a little heavier on the white areas, but only slightly so. My thinking there was that the orange paint had been applied over the white, and thus abuse had to get through both colors. In the areas of white, only the one color had to be damaged, and thus there was more. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 😉 )
More Stuff Layered On
The next step was just working around the model, looking for areas to apply stains, leaks, streaks, and other such griminess. I used several Vallejo colors from their Weather Effects line, such as Oil Spills and Fuel Stains. These were applied with my #0 liner, and in very, very small amounts. While I did use them unthinned, I was extremely careful to build them up, a bit at a time, to get the desired effect. This worked well among all the raised detail, as trying to apply oils and then subtract from them would have been a bit more difficult. And the fast drying acrylics gave a nod to the everticking clock.
Up to this point, I’d been weathering all the subassemblies separately. I felt I was far enough along that all other weathering needed to be done as a whole, so all sections were brought together.
After that was done, I worked my way across the model simply doing all the previous steps on an “as needed” basis. Chipping was touched up, stains were enhanced, a few areas were repainted to tone down or remove stains. That process was driven by viewing the model quite frequently from arm’s length. This allowed me to see the forest, not the trees, so to speak. My eye could view it as one thing – and areas that stood out too much were quickly identified and addressed.
As a final weathering step, a highly thinned mixture of Tamiya XF-9 Hull Red and Nato Black XF-69 was applied. This produces a nice smoky, burned, stained effect. The various jet nozzles were hit with this, as well as a few areas around the airframe to suggest previous areas of burn.
With all of that finished, a final matt varnish was applied, using Vallejo Mecha Color Matt Varnish.
The Culmination Of Fun
Quite often when I write stories from my childhood, there is a fairly concrete tie-in with the model. In this one though, it’s a little more loose.
Building, painting, and weathering MPC’s Space 1999 Hawk Mk. IX was fun. It wasn’t the best fitting kit. Loads of seam line cleanup was needed, and a bit of sanding and filling. The sheer number of decals was a bit daunting. Final assembly of all the bits was a tad fiddly, though not terribly so.
Yet as I built it, all along the journey, I kept thinking how this would have been a kit I would have absolutely loved as a kid. It just looks cool. The fact that it would have been on TV also would be a bonus.
In my mind’s eye, I can see me standing there, looking up a the boxes, and this is a kit I would have wanted to be there. It’s presence would have been one of those rare moments that no thought was needed. Grab it NOW. That’s the one. No need to look around. Had I not had enough money, it would have been worth the chance to beg for it, to commit to extra chores and other horrible atrocities of the sort.
This little kit is quite fun, and I can recommend it anyone. At the end of the day, you’ll be quite happy with it simply being several hours of fun that produces a cool spaceship.
More than enough to get a thumbs up from a kid standing in Woolworth’s. 😀