Jim James’ ARC-170
Painting and Gluing Revell-Germany’s Pre-painted ARC-170 Snap Kit
Getting from this…
…. to this.
No self-respecting modeler would be caught dead with a pre-painted snap kit in his or her collection. But who says you have to build it that way?
Since Revell-Germany had gone to the trouble of making this a snap together kit, I snapped it together to see how well it’s made. So let’s start with a brief review of the snap kit.
Look, ma, no glue and no paint
There are 36 nicely pre-painted parts including the clear canopy and three rubber pilot figures but separating the parts from the sprue, leaves patches of plastic-colored plastic in the painted areas. Apart from that, the parts are nicely molded with a fair amount of detail.
Instructions are clear and the order of assembly work very well. Pictures, however, are unable to communicate ideas like “press together really, really firmly until the parts snap into place” or “for the best fit, sand down the nubs left from where you separated the part from the sprue.”
Assembly is a little fiddly at times and although everything else snaps into place, the pilot figures just sit in the seats. Without some glue, they would have their heads buried under cockpit consoles (what there are of them) the first time the builder does battle in the living room. Of course, you have to fly it around the room because there’s no stand and the main guns will keep falling off with each engagement with the Trade Federation’s furniture.
On the positive side, this does make a passable and mean-looking model for non-model builders in about 20 minutes.
Real Modelers Don’t Build Pre-Painted Snap Kits
So what can be done with this model? It will need repainting and all pictures show that the ARC-170 isn’t very clean. There are opportunities for detailing – there’s almost no cockpit interior under all that glass, the R2 astromech droid is missing, the pilots are static and the guns don’t look like they mean business.
Painting means covering the markings. The roundels are available on a decal sheet from CultTVMan but the nose emblem, green stripes (make these more a drab than the bright green on the kit) and fuselage and wing warning markings are not. I had to make homemade decals for these. The nose emblem can be scanned from the instructions and the remaining shapes can be produced with any computer drawing program. You can also print them on clear decal sheet on a color laser printer since the bleed through from the color underneath is minimal.
Reference materials are hard to come by. Available stills are dark, distant and generally not very helpful but this changes with the release of Episode 3 on DVD. While I was building, the only decent reference was Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars, Episode III but even that picture didn’t reveal much cockpit detail or color detail.
Really great wing joints mean that you can build your ARC 170 in three separate modules – 2 wings and the fuselage. I started with the cockpit area. R-G doesn’t give you much detail, just seats and pilots. Using the Cross-Sections book as a guide, I scratchbuilt the cockpit interior using sheet styrene, leftover Jupiter 2 and Spindrift decals and a fair amount of guesswork. I cut off the pilots arms, replaced them with trimmed down 1/72nd scale arms so they didn’t look so relaxed and repainted the figures. I would recommend sawing (not snipping) off the tabs on the canopy.
The kit comes without the R2 astromech droid. I cut open the hole in the canopy and boxed in the area of the cockpit. The droid is built from sprue and styrene strips – remember, all you’ll see is the dome.
Painting the Pre-Painted
You have to assume that R-G was fairly accurate in their paint scheme and I made only a few changes based on the book reference.
- Main fuselage and wing, base color – Humbrol Light Gray (147)
- Mid grey highlights – Testors Fulchrum Gray
- Darker gray highlights – Testors European Gray
- Red panels – Testors Guards Red
- Main guns and engines – Testors Magnesium Metalizer
- Rear nozzles – Testors Jet Exhaust Metalizer
From this point, it’s mainly a question of masking and airbrushing and masking and airbrushing, etc. I did use a metalizer on the engine to give it some texture and it really improves the main guns –so does hollowing out the barrels with a Dremel.
There is no stand with the kit. Make plans early as to how and where you want to mount your model. The Cross-Sections book has only a hint of what the landing gear looks like but it could be scratchbuilt with a little creativity.
I replaced the flat searchlight in the nose with a piece of brass tubing and filled it with a mix of white glue and clear red acrylic.
The rear guns were rebuilt using pieces of styrene for detail, a steel rod for the barrel and a new muzzle made from the nose of a 1/72nd scale Sparrow missile.
Leave the cockpit masked until the very end of assembly and painting.
Finishing and Weathering
I built the model clean, applied the decals and gave a spray of DullCote. There’s a lot of dirt on the photos of the ARC 170 I’ve seen (including R-G’s box art). I weathered with black pastel dust and some light gray dry-brushed on darker areas and leading edges. A final dusting with DullCote to seal the weathering, remove the mask around the cockpit and you are ready for battle.