Apr 102018

I’ve never gotten into the Gerry Anderson puppet shows (probably just weren’t shown in my area when I was a kid), but I do know that a lot of people are quite fond of them. And I do *kinda* get it… in the era before computer graphics made filling the screen with spaceships of wildly varying designs easy and cheap, Andersons shows were the only ones that featured a whole bunch of different designs. Other shows like Star trek you had pretty much just the one ship, and that was mostly stock footage used over and over. And it seems to me that the most popular of the Anderson ships would be either the Eagle from “Space: 1999” or the Thunderbird 2 from “Thunderbirds Are Go.” And if you want a bignormous T2, well, crack open your bank account, here it comes.

Thunderbird 2 | 1:144 Scale

This is a model kit, but it’s not one you get all at once.Instead it’s a subscription kit, paid for and shipped a bit at a time. There are two options available, 12 month and 24 month; it’s a little unclear, but I *assume* that with the 12 month option each month you get twice as much stuff as you’d get per month in the 24 month option. And in the end, you get this:

The thing is freakin’ GIGANTIC:

And it’s spendy as heck. For the 12-month option, it’s £79.99 per month, or £959.88 total. .. about $1,400 at current exchange rates.


Seems like a slightly more affordable option would be this 1/350 scale conventional model kit, a steal at forty bucks:


But hey. If’n ya want a gigantic Thunderbird 2, let it never be said I didn’t point one out to you.

 Posted by at 2:52 pm
Apr 082018

I estimate I’m about halfway through the process of cleaning up the 3D printed parts. Still visible here and there are the stepped layers that result from the printing process, steps that are being laboriously cleaned away. The parts are just taped together here. It’s shown next to a Diamond Select TOS Enterprise. They aren’t the same scale, but they are pretty close to the same size.

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
Apr 052018

The 3D printed parts for the 1/1400 scale Mid Range Cruiser  arrived yesterday. If you’ve ever dealt with 3D printed stuff you know that before they are prepped they kinda look… blurry. That was the case here. But today I went after the forward hull top and bottom shells with sandpaper and mineral spirits and… SHAZAM! This is looking like it’ll be a damn fine model. The fine details that I threw into the model Just Because, knowing that they wouldn’t get reproduced… they’re there. Each individual window is recessed and visible. Neato.

It will take a little while to get things photo-worthy. There’s cleanup, some contouring needing finishing, some other bits and pieces. I’ll post some photos in a day or three. The model is not gigantic, but it is of a decent size… it’ll look great on a desk, shelf, mantle or zooming around in your hand while you go “pew pew pew.” I don’t judge. You can reserve a kit HERE.

In lieu of a photos, here’s a set of orthogonal diagrams made from the CAD model. The diagram has been cleaned up substantially since this small image of it was taken. I plan on doing something meaningful with the diagram; seems like a first step would be to include a one-page layout in the kit instructions with tech data and callout, a tech manual sort of thing.

HERE is the post where I described how I determined the scale of the ship. If you disagree… well, it’s a little late now, ain’t it.

 Posted by at 8:48 pm
Mar 312018

A month and a half ago, Hasbro said “if enough people – 5000 – sign on to our crowdfunding effort, we’ll make a ginormous high-end ‘Jabba’s Sail Barge’ toy for $500 a pop.” It seemed like a  bit of a long shot.

They’ve exceeded that number, and have announced that they’re going ahead.


They are currently sitting at 5687 funders out of 5000, each at $499.99 plus tax. It’s not clear that Hasbro will actually manufacture this beyond the requirements of  the crowdfunders, so if you want one, you only have a few days left (they stop taking funders on April 3).

With luck this will give rise to a proper Falcon. I shudder to guess what *that* would cost…

 Posted by at 2:21 am
Mar 252018

The video below explains why the original starship Enterprise design looks great, using a few bits of art-math.

To my eye, the TOS Enterprise is the pinnacle of sci-fi spectacle. No other spaceship design comes close in terms of just being plain beautiful… sure the XD-1 has sorta-realism going for it, the Millenium Falcon and the Star Destroyer have their charms, the Gunstar and Starfury are utter badassery. But the NCC-1701? Just gorgeous.

What’s sad is that with such a fantastic basis, Star Trek ship design has kinda cratered. The refit Enterprise from the movies? A worthy successor to be sure, and a number of the other movie-era ships are up there: the Grissom is good, the Excelsior and Reliant are awesome. And even though the actual *show* is something I’ve completely lost interest in, the NCC-1701D from TNG has grown on me, as hav a number of other TNG/DS9/Voy ships. But the 1701E from the movies? Meh. The Enterprise was always *elegant,* be it 1701, 1701A or 1701D, it was just a slick design. But the 1701E started the trend of making Trek ships… well, not quite sure what the word I’m looking for is, so I’ll go with “shardy.” The NX-01 from “Enterprise” left me cold, which, actually, was kinda fine since it was supposed to be a technology prototype built by people who didn’t really know what they were doing yet. The Enterprise from the nuTrek movies? Bleah. And the “Discovery” ships took “shardy” to whole new levels of excess. The brief glimpse of the TOS 1701 from the last scene of the season finale of “Discovery” (plastered all over youtube) just looks sucko. It’s a mishmash of TOS and movie era with a whole lot of needless excess CGI’ed onto it.



The “Discovery” take on the 1701:

Bleah. Details and greeblies just for the sake of tacking them on.

The Mirror Universe episode of “Enterprise” included a faithful CGI 1701-type ship. That, along with a number of fan-created CG Enterprises, show that the design *still* works just fine, no need for a bunch of Just Cuz design changes or revisions to jazz the thing up.

With the rapid advance in CGI, there’s no good *technical* reason (though some powerful legal reasons – the rights are all over the place) why a movie or series couldn’t feature not just *a* 1701-type ship, but *the* TOS-era Enterprise, complete with Tarkinized 60’s-era Kirk and Spock & Co. I suppose someone could even write some bloated crossover event flick where the nuTrek Enterprise goes through a spatial anomaly into a parallel reality, runs into the Discovery, they start comparing notes, rejigger the anomaly to send the nuEnterprise home and whoopsie, end up bumping up against the *real* Enterprise. Do it right, and it might even redeem Discovery and nuTrek. If nothing else, it’d be worth the price of admission to see the Karl Urban and Deforrest Kelly McCoys making life hell for the two Spocks, and the Chris Pine Kirk putting the moves on the Grace Lee Whitney Yeoman Rand. Maybe use *that* as the excuse for why she left the show: she left her Enterprise to be with PineKirk. And there’s even a good way to explain why TOS didn’t suddenly get a bump up in technology levels: they wanted to adopt the nuTrek technologies, like interstellar transporters, but the cost would have been prohibitive. The new technologies would have introduced lens flares all over, and no sane civilization wanted to put up with that.

 Posted by at 7:51 pm
Mar 162018

I think I’m pretty good at 2D drafting and at 3D CAD modeling for 3D printing and such. But I’ve very little experience with texture mapping and rendering for “art.” But while modeling the JPL interstellar precursor spacecraft for the next issue of USSP, it occurred to me that the model didn’t look half bad just with basic coloring of the parts. While this may work for spacecraft, I don’t imagine it’d be all that wonderful for aircraft.

The JPL spacecraft was to be propelled by a bank of 40 ion engines. I tried to simulate that with lights in the engines, but that did some *wacky* stuff… light shining *through* solid objects, not casting shadows, all kinds of stuff that Just Ain’t Right. I don’t suppose my ancient copy of Rhinoceros 3D is really meant for that sort of thing. So I simulated the ion engine exhaust with simple transparent cylinders. Not the greatest but… does it look like it’s doing the job?

UPDATE: A better version. See comments for process.

 Posted by at 12:44 am
Mar 112018

A model of the Northrop low altitude penetrator alternative to the B-2, to be 3D printed and turned into a kit for Fantastic Plastic is in the very early stages.

And a JPL interstellar precursor spacecraft design with a Pluto orbiter. The goal was to put scientific instruments a full 1,000 astronomical units out using nuclear/electric propulsion. This model is being built with the specific intention of using it to create a set of accurate and consistent diagrams for the next issue of US Spacecraft projects, but I wonder if there might be interest in a physical model of this.


 Posted by at 1:49 am
Feb 202018

From Those Were The Days… currently on eBay is a truly impressive piece:

Douglas Aircraft Co 1960’s Skeletal Wood Model of the C-5 Cargo Proposal LARGE

The Buy-It-Now price is a substantial fifteen grand. It shows the internal structure of the Douglas proposal of the CX-HLS, what became the C-5, at fairly large scale. More pics after the break.

Computer graphics are great. But they would not compare to seeing something like this set up as part of a sales display. Of course, you can’t exactly email this thing as a PDF…

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:38 pm
Feb 172018

There are two things at work here:

  1. Toys have in general improved in artistic quality and detail
  2. The target audience back in the day was 10. The target audience remains the same people, who have grown older and generally more wealthy in the intervening decades.

The Vintage Collection Jabba’s Sail Barge (The Khetanna)

Hasbro has set up their own form of Kickstarter. If they can get 5,000 people willing to pony up $500, they will produce this “toy” of the Sail Barge slight over *49* inches in length. If they don’t reach the goal, those who signed up won’t be charged. As with Kickstarter, this seems like a fair way to test the market for something that could either be a winner or a disaster.

I’ve never been a big fan of the Sail Barge, but I hope they do well. If this works, it seems like they might go to the next obvious step and do a proper scale version of the Millennium Falcon. And if that works… a Star Destroyer. That would only be, what, 293 feet long.

Back when Star Wars came out, *I* was the exact target audience and boy howdy did I want one of the die cast Star Destroyers. And man, those original toys were *garbage* compared to what they’re able to produce today.



 Posted by at 6:12 pm