On The Bench 104 : Erin Lantz Minbari War Cruiser

On The Bench returns this week with this presentation from Erin Lantz. Erin built this monster kit in time for Wonderfest this year in Louisville. This series of photos chronicles his struggle to bring this kit to life!

And so it begins….


Well, I finally bit down and started this monster. For those of you who didn’t know, I paid a HUGE price for this kit. Believe me, it was enough to where I was seriously wondering if I wanted to build it! I won it in a E-bay auction and let’s just say one full paycheck went into paying for it.


The finished kit looks to be about 3 feet tall when done, I haven’t pieced it together and measured it yet but it’s big! In fact, I’m wondering if it will meet the Wonderfest requirements. I hope so, it’s really not any bigger than that big purple dragon that was there last year.

The vacformed pieces are surprisingly thick and very easy to prep for gluing. I’m using CA so far, I don’t want to risk damaging the surfaces with solvent glue. It’s bad enough that the maker (I have no idea who made it) spead CA all over the inside and then hit it with accelerator to avoid copying. The hardened pattern of the CA on the inside is visible on the outside. Hopefully it’ll blend into the organic look of the ship when done. The hull fit dang near perfectly except for the top cap (the hull is two sides, a top and a bottom piece), it was a little wide, but manageable.


The engine pods and bottom half of the tail didn’t fit, but still fixable with some styrene sheet sandwiched between halves. So far the hardest part about building it is the filing and sanding, and even that is going WAY WAY better than normal, for me anyways. Super glue gets really hard really fast! Dudes, I truly now hate sanding. If there is a model god, he’ll give us a sander that’s appropriate for our hobby!


Yep, it’s the Temproral Rift kit.



Well, here she is full of foam! Construction went as can be expected with vac kits, it was all sanding and filing. Learned a new lesson, don’t fill large cavities with canned foam unless you first spray the interior with a mist of water, the water activates the foam. I filled without doing this and ended up with goo in the main hull. So, I filled it with water and watched it real close, sure nuff it foamed up and all ended well.

This photo is of the three upper components dry fitted together. When I start painting I think I’ll glue the upper wing and the tail on, but leave off the pods and lower wings. They’d just be in the way when doing the dark blue stripes.

As you can see, I decided that the bare ends of the sides of the ship were just not right, so filled the rear end edges with foam and have since then sanded it into a shell looking edge. The rear now more resembles the AoG mini’s rear end, with thick edges.

This photo shows the various detail parts and wings. I’;m replacing the kit’s wood dowels with brass tubing, looks much better, dontcha think? Visible here is one other problem with the kit. The small pods have holes for the mounting arms on all four pieces, which of course means that two of them must be filled. I used a epoxy putty stuff for that, no problems at all with it filling or sanding. I did get a little too much foam into the wings, but cut it out to the correct size after it dried. Yes, this model creates problems for you as you build, but all vac kits are like that.




Ok, I’m off to work on it some more. Found out it’s too big for Wonderfest, at least as a single ship entry. Looks like I need to do a diorama, anyone got any fleet scale Minbari fighters?



And so it begins, continued…..


Here’s a shot of the antennas once finished. Guys, two weeks of nothing but brass, tiny resin tips, and epoxy glue will drive one insane! There’s 16 sets of antennas, some sets of 2, some sets of 4, some sets of 6. This was the hardest part of the model so far.


Final Assembly




Well, here’s the latest pics of the fish (Joe’s nickname for it). The guns are all glued on except for the rear top guns. The tail is separate for painting, as are all of the pods. Everything has been primed once and seams have been addressed, but some are just impossible to get to to sand. I discovered the joys of gel superglue too late, why haven’t I tried this stuff before now?! It actually can be shaped before it dries! TOO COOL!

All of the major seams are reinforced with the biggest brass rod my model rr shop carries (about 1/8th inch), and glued with 1000lb epoxy glue and then sealed with superglue. Word of advice for those who have this kit, find something stiffer than the household foam filler, the stuff isn’t real good for drilling into and gluing things into. All of my pod guns are glued inside with epoxy and then the rims that meet the surface are sealed with CA with major gap-fillage. Not pretty, but it gets the job done, and I’m running out of time!!!

Painting will commence tomorrow. I have chosen to use TamiyaX-14 Sky Blue as the base color, their Clear blue for the splotchy blobs under the surface of the skin, another mist coat of Sky Blue, then the patterns will be sprayed out in Clear Blue. Next a clear coat, then the X-16 Purple will be used to put in some splotches over the centers of the patterns. Final touch up and assembly then a clear coat should finish this thing off. Now, the million dollar question, will I get it done in time for the big show?!


how many bottles…..



Hadn’t even thought about how many bottles it would take to cover this bad boy! You guys are right, I gotta find a replacement! Sherwin Williams will match any color I need and give it to me in lacquer or latex, so that’s no biggie, thanks anyways for the offers, guys.

I scoured three hobby shops for the right color, find it in Tamiya, and now I have to go get it specially mixed? Well, ok, the Sky Blue IS just a tad too blue anyway…..

I would never even consider handbrushing it! EEEWWWW!!!! No, brush lines are not my thing! I went and bought a new needle, nozzle, and tip for the Badger and am gonna go tomorrow or Wed to get new nozzle and needle for the Paashe. Not even gonna use that Aztec abortion I bought, thing’s more trouble than it’s worth. So you guys will have to find something else to nitpick, the spatter is NADA on this one, baby!!! Actually, all of my spatter problems came from a bad nozzle and tip, not the needle. May want to replace the whole front end of your brush if you have the same problem, it fixed it on my Badger. can’t wait to see how much the Paashe parts are…

Ok, thanks for the suggestions. I guess with all the excitement I never realized it would take so much paint to cover it. Shoulda realized it when I went to K Ma

Oh yeah, how bout this for a base? Make a Triluminary from acrylic tubing, then suspend the cruiser and the Sinclair’s fury in the center, then back it all with a starfield. Designing the dio is the only part worrying me, I’m so afraid of space dios it’s not funny! Any ideas? How are the dios judged anyway? I also though of a Minbari military recruiting poster, but with their being caste based and all, it’s kinda a moot point. What is their definition of a diorama? Anyone?


The above photos were taken at Wonderfest in June 2000. The model, entitled “Minbari Capture of Sinclair” won a Bronze in the diorama category. Congratulations to Erin!


Some parting comments:

The final paint job was done in Painter’s Choice Spa Blue base, clear Tamiya Blues for the background blues, Tamiya Clear blue mixed 50/50 with Tamiya Purple for the spots and stripes, final clear coat of Krylon Acrylic Clear. I wimped out on the base, ran out of time! Tis ok, I understand that AoG has had a base built for it, it’s theirs now any way. Now, on to the same kit, at least now I know it’s pain in the butt areas this time.

Erin Lantz

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