Monday 29 August 2011

Model Making: Retro Rocket Mk.1 Pt. 1

As I slowly tie several projects together (Hydra Miniatures Retro Raygun figures, the Habitation Dome, laser cut gantry system and a few more that will be seen in the near future), my retro sci-fi collection is filling out nicely. However, you can’t have a retro sci-fi game without a bullet shaped rocket or a flying saucer! So I have slowly been putting several ideas together to come up with a selection of retro rockets. These will include rockets from several different sources, including one model kit, a shower radio, a child’s sweet dispenser and the first completed one… a bubble blower.
Retro Rocket with three Hydra Miniatures Figures
Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of this during the early stages of building it. It was started a couple of years ago and at the time I had no idea that I would end up doing this article. Anyway, to give you an idea of where this came from it basically started life as a bubble blower in a kind of raygun shape, very similar to this one:-
As you can see the basic elements are already there,it has a fairly streamlined shape and the rocket pods are already there. My one is a little more rounded than the one in this photo, but it is essentially the same thing. All I had to do was remove the inner working, fan etc., cut off the handle and “bubble blowing frame” and I had the basis for the model.
I took the inspiration from the Flash Gordon Saturday morning cliffhanger series spaceship.
Flash Gordon Rocket
I initially started the project with the intention of producing a resin kit, so the next thing I did was to fill the entire hull with car body filler. To survive the mould making process, masters for resin models are best made with absolutely no internal cavities, as when the vacuum degassing process takes place on the silicone rubber mould any air trapped inside the model expands and can literally blow it apart. So this had made the final model very solid!
Pulp Rocket 01Pulp Rocket 02
In these photos you can see the filled body glued together and with the nose stuck in place. The nose (yellow in the photos) is actually a lid from a super glue bottle, which fitted perfectly on to the front end of the rocket. The second photo also shows the side of the model where I cut the handle/trigger mechanism off of the bubble blower. Here filled in with filler and with a basic groove cut in for the door.
Pulp Rocket 08
At this point I was doing a lot of sanding and filling to get rid of the seems and also to even up the area where the handle had been removed. This process involves filling an area, sanding it down, giving the model a coat of spray filler, sanding a little more and then repeating from the beginning again until you are happy with the finish. This accounts for why the model has gone red all of a sudden (spay primer).
I had spent quite some time trying to work out how I was going to do the actual rocket engines. Obviously, a lot of the works was already done with the pods either side and and also the raised disc on the back of the body.
Was I going to have just two engines, one on each pod, or three? Ok, a main central engine and two boosters either side seemed logical!
Next up, how do I get the typical rocket engine shape? This one was a little trickier, until I happened to notice the pen I was using had a screw on tip that just happened to be the perfect shape. I ended up with three tips from different pens, that are all the same shape, if different coloured.
Pulp Rocket 07
I drilled a hole in the back of each section the the engines cones were being fitted and then used epoxy adhesive to set them in place. I left the model perched in a yoghurt pot to set.
Pulp Rocket 04Pulp Rocket 10Pulp Rocket 05
Then it was back to more filling, sanding, spraying and sanding again! Also here you can see the first set of legs I laser cut for the model. I really wasn’t happy with either the shape or the the way they sat on the model, so later on I redesigned them as you will see in the next set of photos.
Pulp Rocket 13Pulp Rocket 12Pulp Rocket 11
These legs worked much better and had a more aesthetically pleasing retro look about them! At this point I thought that the area around the central engine looked a little plain and needing something extra to finish it off. So drawing on on Flash Gordon DVD set for inspiration I decided a ring of tubes around the main engine cone would be enough to add some interest without ruining the sleek lines of this “super fast craft”.
Pulp Rocket 09
Pulp Rocket 17Pulp Rocket 18Pulp Rocket 16Pulp Rocket 15
I cut some styrene tube down to 5mm lengths using a jeweller piercing saw and glued them in a ring around the engine. Then with a little filing to even them up they really finished off the rear detailing nicely.
Now it was just about ready for painting. I had already decided on a simple Red and Gold paint scheme that seemed to be the perfect fit for a retro rocket. I would split the colours around the existing seem line that ran around the body of the bubble blower. I sprayed the front half of the body with a gloss red that stood out very well. At this point I felt that the door looked a little plain, but I hadn’t decided what to do about it yet…
Pulp Rocket 20Pulp Rocket 24Pulp Rocket 21
Mike, a friend of mine, suggested the obvious thing was to add a porthole to the door.
Pulp Rocket 19Pulp Rocket 32
I cut a slice off the end of a piece of aluminium tube that was around 8mm diameter. This proved to be ideal. I simply super glued it to the door and then painted it!
I then finished off the paint job. Gold for the nose and rear half of the body, steel for the legs and engine cones and copper for the tubes around the centre engine.
Pulp Rocket 27Pulp Rocket 28Pulp Rocket 29Pulp Rocket 30Pulp Rocket 31Pulp Rocket 33
I have now come to the conclusion that I got the gold and the red the wrong way round and it would have looked better with the front half of the ship in gold and the nose and rear section in red! However, I am not going to repaint it at this point, as it look pretty good as it is…
Pulp Rocket 35
This is a final photo with the rocket and the Hydra Miniatures (Not)Flash Gordon figure – Buster Gordy (not quite finished painting him in the photo)!

(Edit) A few commentators have suggested that the rocket might look good with a fin on top. As this seems like a good idea to me and is a very easy alteration, I am modifyig the model at the moment and will post some revised photos in a few days...
(Edit 2) You can see the final model in Model Making: Retro Rocket Mk.1 Pt. 2

I have just started the second retro rocket model, so keep checking back for the further adventures…

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