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Zoxe

Dropfleet Commander 2-Up Beijing (Battleship)

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2020 Goals

As we drove home from Reapercon this year, we talked about our contest results, and the year (2019) and what we wanted to work on next and how we wanted to tackle 2020.  

All in all, 2019 was a great Hobby year, but I often felt overwhelmed and spread too thin trying to get contest pieces done while also moving forward with tabletop content.  The amount of Shadows of Brimstone that I have in my pile of shame is truly staggering, nevermind KDM, or Freeblades, or Dropfleet (yes, I still have MUCH more DFC in a box in the closet).  While I'm super happy with taking contest wins at smaller contests, I would truly like to improve my results at a huge/national contest like Reapercon.  

I'm finding it difficult for these two aspirations (turn and burn painting, serious contest entries) to co-exist while also tackling real life.

So, for 2020 I am embarking upon a 2-pronged approach. 

  1. First, I'm blowing off contest entries for a year.  If I happen to toss something together (like I did for the Miniature Monthly Masters this month), that's great.  But I am not going to clog my desk with a series of "serious" entries like I did in 2019.
  2. I'm going to come back at the end of the year with my best work.  I'd really like to do well at RC2020, aiming for Gold status, and/or taking a win in one of the Manufacturer awards.

The rest of the car ride consisted of scheming and planning and picking out just a handful of projects that would help support this, while not being so overwhelming that I can't continue to keep SoB and KDM moving forward.

Dropfleet Commander 2-Up Beijing

The first serious project is the subject of this post.  

During the 2015 Kickstarter, Hawk (now TTCombat) offered a "2-Up" battleship as an exclusive addon.  I missed the KS, but managed to grab one of the last of their residual stock at Adepticon.  This is a 200% scale display model of one of the iconic battleships from the game.  It's not tourney playable but could act as an objective/centerpiece.  Mine will be display only.

One of the classes we took at Reapercon was about planning out a "serious" contest piece, so upon our return I built out a 14 page powerpoint where I assembled inspiration (art) and goals, and planned through how I'd tackle the ship.  I've learned a lot from my tabletop DFC; now it's time to take all that and crank up the quality.  

I also signed up for monthly 1:1 with Aaron Lovejoy through Miniature Monthly's Patreon.  So, once a month I'll get some feedback and insights from a pro painter via skype.  

Inspiration and Source Art

A big chunk off the planning document was source art.  I'm screenshotting several of the slides so that you can see how I assembled my thoughts:

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Edited by Zoxe

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Initial pictures for a sense of scale.  

Finished model will be about a foot long.  The painted ship on the bottom is normal game scale.

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Edited by Zoxe

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Model cleanup and initial setbacks.

Lately, I find that model cleanup and prep is maybe half of my time investment for contest pieces.  Every mold line must be removed or it can knock you down a full grade level (from Gold to Silver, for example).  Gaps and voids need to be filled.  It simply takes me forever to get a contest piece into primer, and then once it's primed I'm still fixing things before I apply basecoats.

Several weeks ago, I sat down to work on the Beijing (that's the ship's class ingame) and found that the center hull section was kind of a mess.  I contacted TTCombat and they were nice enough to provide a replacement - express shipped from the UK!  

These are the pictures I sent them to complain. :)

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Can see the drastic difference in "crisp" between the Forward and Center pieces.

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Edited by Zoxe

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Ready for assembly

Here's where I am today.  The initial prep done for the 3 main hull pieces, and I've roughed in the smaller doodads (antennae, engines, and cannons).  I need to glue and pin the 3 main hull sections.  Every time I sit down to commit to assembly, I find more mold lines and spend a couple of hours with files and x-acto knives to make things more perfect.  Part of this is apprehension about screwing it up, and some of this is just my OCD about mold lines.  

I have one last thing to fix - the Aft Hull and Center Hull don't actually line up very well.  I did my 1:1 with Aaron this past Tuesday and he agreed that I'll need to trim off the Z-bend and then get creative with the putty.  In theory this is a 30 second task with my garage bench grinder, but there's always that seed of doubt in the back of my head. :)

 

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Edited by Zoxe

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Assembly Started

Roughly 3 hours yesterday continuing to clean hull lines and get the fit as close as possible. The aft hull is now tacked in place with superglue; I'll pin it with sections of paperclips and 2-part epoxy before I go much further.  The front hull is ready to fit but don't want to risk snapping the back half off with handling.

I have a micro-drill chuck to adapt my cordless drill to the superfine hobby drill bits.  I have a pin drill (hand spinning) but need to drill several 1-2 inch holes into the resin for the paperclips and do NOT plan to do that by hand. :)  Adapter will be here Tuesday.

So, while I wait, I started cleaning up the engines.  They're a little warped and one of them had some mold slip (side to side mismatch of the mold halves).  I didn't take a 'before' shot but you can see it in the top engine set in the picture.  I don't have a choice but to try to make the engine cylinders round again and started down that path this morning.  I'll need to decide if I counterbore the engines (i.e. hollow them out) or leave them flat.  

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Edited by Zoxe

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No pics this time but the forward hull section is now tacked onto the main hull.  

Aft hull is pinned with segments of paperclip and 2-part epoxy.  There are some significant gaps that I'll need to deal with, but nothing impossible ... yet.  

 

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Have been away from this project for a few weeks (and if I say 'a few' it's probably been closer to 6 or 8).  All the hull sections are joined and pinned with sections of paperclip. 

Honestly, as I got into the project, I kept finding more and more little molding issues that tempered my enthusiasm.  I've got a lot of time invested already scraping and cleaning off minor mold blowouts, and I have quite a bit to go before I think about applying primer. (If this were for just me, I'd shrug and move on, but the intent here is a credible high caliber contest entry).  (Admission: I cruised the internet last night looking for an alternate model to enter).

You can also see some lines etched in the surface - the master is probably a 3D print, and the silicone mold picked them up.  Most of these will need to go.  Yesterday I started sanding and scraping.  It's tedious because I can't wipe off the bumps and doodads all over the hull.

In particular, I need to fix the step between the hull sections.  In the first picture below, I've sanded and shaped to make the hull lines match up.  In the second picture you can see where I started from.  I'll need to get everything flush and then will fill the gap between sections with Aves Epoxie Sculpt.

You can also see the hole where I drilled at an angle between the two pieces.  I straightened a paperclip and used 2 part epoxy to reinforce the glue joint.  Two holes per section - one top, one bottom.  Don't need the keel fracturing down the road!  I was able to hide the holes in the bottom, but there was no choice but to drill in a very visible spot from the top.  In this picture, I've just filled the paperclip hole with Ave's.  I may have some more work to blend it fully.

 

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Edited by Zoxe

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