Joe Brown’s Gungun Sub review

  • Manufactured by: ERTL
  • Scale: Listed as 1/48, actually 1/72
  • Parts: 26 in soft gray plastic, 2 clear – includes a 2 part stand; 28 total.
  • Instructions: Typical fold-out, 4-part guide illustration, including the paint guide
  • Decals: 2 cockpit instrument panels on 1 small sheet
  • Molding Quality: 8 – no flash, some mold-pin release points on interior surfaces.
  • Detail: 8 – mostly raised.
  • Accuracy: 8 (given that the scale is incorrectly listed)
  • Price: $11-15 USD, available from most hobby shops. (Mine cost $10.00)
  • Overall Rating: 8, assuming adult supervision and patience.

The Gungan Sub, or Bongo, as it’s referred to by everyone’s favorite Gungan (Jar Jar Binks) is nicely represented in this kit. Given that ERTL is aiming at the Skill level 1, age 8-plus crowd, they could have done far worse. The finished measurement is 13 and 1/4 inches long, and it’s 6 inches wide and 2 inches tall.

Check out 01.jpg, which clearly shows 4 seated figures from left to right. First and largest, a Hasegawa fighter pilot in 1/32 scale. Then a Testor’s fighter pilot in 1/48 scale. Then there’s Obi-Wan, followed by Preiser of Germany’s seated man in 1/87, or HO scale. Given the size progression, I think it’s safe to say that Obi-Wan is 1/72 scale.

I checked the parts and instructions pretty thoroughly and decided to build this kit as close to the instructions as I possibly could. I carefully cut the upper and lower hulls from the sprue, and I left all of the other parts attached. I used an ivory paint (Apple Barrel acrylic), suitably thinned for my airbrush, as both a primer and the main color of the sub.

After spraying all the parts but the clear windows and allowing overnight for drying, I applied my choice of a close acrylic color match for the blue shown on the box art and pictures–Citadel Miniatures Hideous Blue. I brush-painted all of the rest of the sub, mainly using this odd choice of blue, but I think that it works well as a color.

The Figures

The three figures are in very dull poses — I suppose that it made the injection molding process simpler. What surprised me was that the figures are recognizably near to what you can see in the film, given the scale. I was not too worried about making them screen quality, so I applied a rather quick and sloppy paint and marker job to them. Jar-Jar in particular needs a better paint job than what I did in 5 minutes!

The cargo

The two cargo sections that are to the rear on either side of the cockpit have some basic shapes, to which are added the four odd-shaped pieces marked 6 A-D. I did a quickie job of slopping International Orange on them, and while they were drying, I brushed the other pieces of equipment molded into the floor of the compartments with yellow, green, and Dark Ghost Gray. I also painted the cockpit floor with Light Gull Gray.

The Drive Fins

No fun to be had here! The raised bumps that run lengthwise of the front and back of each fin were dry bushed repeatedly with Hideous Blue. I painted the spinner that they connect to (part 15) yellow, and then I dry-brushed the end of it with International Orange. The fins have to be inserted exactly as shown in the instructions, but carefully sand or shave away any paint that is near the right angle connections on the fins.

I didn’t, and believe me, it’s a tight fit! I discovered that the fins WILL fit in flush, just as shown on the photos on the side of the kit box, but be careful! While forcing the top fin into place, I snapped off the little right angle on it’s end. Surprise — that’s what’s needed to hold it in place. So I wound up gluing that one in; that’s the only spot on the whole kit where I used glue.

The rest of the story

Everything does snap together, and it holds together very nicely. There are some gaps, notably where the spinner attaches to the hull and the sides of the hull where the top and bottom meet. While I was building this model, I tried to keep in mind the way I slammed models together when I was 10 or 11. Back then, I would not have had the patience to paint a section and then let it sit undisturbed overnight while it dried. I would recommend to any modeling parents reading this to think strongly about buying two of these kits–one to give to the kid and watch them slap it together, with maybe a quick and dirty paint job, and one to share with the kid over several weekends as a joint project. This kit can be a honest little gem if you take your time with the painting, and then cut off the snap pins and just glue it together. I’m planning to pick up another one and do this next one right!

Minor note. When my wife and I saw The Phantom Menace in the theater back in June, the scenes which showed the sub were pretty cool. Karen poked me in the ribs and whispered “I bet you could scratch-build that.” I about choked on my popcorn and thanked her for her confidence in my abilities. Now that the kit is out, I’m glad I don’t have to try scratch building this one!

Joe Brown

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