Jim James’ Star Destroyer

The Empire Would Be Proud

Sublevel 3 Heavy Industries Star Destroyer Add-on Parts
Cost:$23.00 plus postage. No longer available

jjsdparts

Information:

Number of parts: 36 resin
Instructions: Good, but should have included more tips about working with this type of kit.
Overall rating: With care, you can really make the ERTL Star Destroyer look the way it should.

jjsdbuild

When ERTL originally released their Star Wars Star Destroyer kit there was much joy in the land. This joy was quickly followed by much lamenting as modelers found that the kit did not meet the expectations set by the picture on the box. The kit soon became one of the less desirable models just because it would take a lot of scratchbuilding to make it look realistic.

Along comes Sub-Level 3 Heavy Industries with their second detailing kit – everything you need to make your Star Destroyer look menacing. A well-timed release since Star Destroyer kits are popping up at $5.00 a piece in bargain bins everywhere.

Does Sublevel 3 make good on it’s promises? Well, yes and no.

The detail surfaces on the parts are molded well. There is little flash and almost no bubbles. At first glance, the instructions appear well written.

jjsd03bay

I hit my first problem when the instructions told me to cut away the lip of the hangar bay from the kit part. Having done that, I found that the kit bay was smaller than the hole. Either Sublevel 3 got it wrong or the instructions are not clear. Do NOT cut away the lip of the hangar bay. Trim it back after you’ve test fitted the resin bay.

There were two more problems that were almost ignored by Sublevel 3 in their instructions. Firstly, most parts were too long and I found myself cautiously sawing off bits. This was especially true with the main hull sides, which I cut apart as instructed and glued in place. However, when I added the two bays on each side, I had to cut nearly a ½” of some pieces to get the bays to fit.

The second problem I figured out half way through the kit. Most of the parts are too thick. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem but when you are trying to line edges up and gluing parts to angled surfaces, the thickness of the part makes assembly confusing. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to point out that you are replacing a thin kit part with a resin part nearly ten times the thickness – half of which is the detail you paid for. When gluing a thick resin part to an angled flat surface, you tend to want to glue the edge flat. You’ll discover the mistake when you attach the upper surface (see Fig. 1).

jjsdfig01

The best solution I came up with is to cut a lip on every part. Using a saw, cut a notch just behind the edge of the part. Fig. 2 shows what I mean. By doing this, you end up with an edge similar to the kit part that allows you to use the guides on the kit parts you use. It also makes corners easier to match.

jjsdfig02

Sublevel 3 suggest adding detail to the flat kit parts used. I used rectangles of different thickness sheet styrene.

Paint instructions are non-existent on the ERTL kit and vague on Sublevel 3 instructions. I painted my Destroyer Light Ghost Gray overall and picked out the detail sections with a flat black wash highlighted with a dusting of Light Ghost Gray.

The resin Blockade Runner included is very low on detail and had some flash. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell where the flash ends and detail begins. I used the photo in “The Art of Star Wars” as a guide and painted the ship white with weathered dark red detail. I used a piece of wire to position the Runner being drawn into the Star Destroyer bay.

jjsd02

Overall, this is a good kit if you think it through and do a lot of test fitting. Carefully compare the resin piece to the kit part it replaces. Given the current low prices of ERTL Star Destroyer kits, this is great time to go back and build something the Empire would be proud of.

Jim James

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