Summer is nearly over in the States, and again, my production has been sparse. I have a good excuse, the same one many of you in blog land have. Real Life.
It is a shame the Real Life can’t conspire to paint our models, or finish that terrain piece. Or pieces. I have many in various stages of progress that Real Life could finish any time it wanted to, I won’t complain. This Real Life event has kept me away from my painting desk, my terrain table (spoiled, I know!) or gaming. I’ve been preoccupied and busy, and haven’t done a whole lot.
Not that most of you care about the why, but here it is anyways. My Princess is heading off to college/university this week, and so I have not had the mojo to sequester myself in the basement when we could be making memories. I did this four years ago with my son, and it was tough. He was my soccer fan, shooting, 40K, Bolt Action companion. And now the other half of my kiddos is heading out.
Mornings have been full of Star Wars Rebels and The Bad Batch, and lots of discussions on characters, ships, plots and future stories in our favorite galaxy far, far away. She gets Star Wars, and knows as much if not more, than I do. She has a phenomenal memory for characters and traits and plots. So, we sit and watch and I complain because I am not to the end yet, and she smirks because she is all caught up and knows what comes next. We laugh, and sometimes cry, miss characters lost, futures that won’t be, and all of the story that is Star Wars. Time well spent.
Evenings have been spent watching Supernatural and sharing Daredevil (the tv series) with her and my wife. Or rewatching favorite movies. After watching Revenge of the Sith my wife looked over at us and said “you know you talked through the entire movie, right?
Of course, we did. We talked about Anakin and Padme, and Obi-wan and Satine. And Corky. And Mandalorians, Mandalore, The Scouring and how it fits into the timeline. We discussed who was where and when. She kept trying to figure out Clone commanders and lamenting the death of all of her favorite clones. Fives will never be forgotten. We enjoyed Yoda in all his saber-flashing glory. Of Anakin’s fall. Hope lost. Sadness. Misery. And the twins. All of it.
And every day that passed brought me closer to the day I’ll help her set up her dorm room, and make the 1600-mile trek home. Without my Star Wars and DnD buddy. Watching Andor will not be the same. Nor will watching whatever is next. She is a next-level fan and very few around me can match her knowledge and enthusiasm.
No one really warns you about this when you have kids. Eighteen years is a long time in the future, right?
Hardly enough time at all.
College. Post grad work. Marriage. A job. She has so many things to look forward to, and her future is incredibly bright.
Mine is just a little dimmer without her light on the couch next to me whenever we want to put on a bit of Star Wars. And it is gonna be hard to deal with.
She is a busy kid, and there were times when I did have a few minutes to myself. I did get a couple things done. Mostly a couple repaints of ships for the game X-Wing. I found a YouTube channel by a chap named Jay Adan. He repaints X-Wing ships, and does a fine job of it. Two of his videos inspired me to make my own attempts. I ordered a couple used (i.e., cheap) ships off eBay or used model sites and got tucked in. Here are the results.
First is a partial repaint of a TIE Phantom. In the game of X-Wing, the Phantom has the ability to cloak and disappear. Nasty little surprise when it happens. This paint is as it begins to cloak. Painting black over the area to cloak, then some electrical/cloaking effects. Finally, I added a bit of the starfield that shows through the cloaked machine. It was pretty quick to do, and ended up way better than I expected.
Second was a set of standard TiEs painted in a black scheme. Mr. Adan used a mask to make the white Imperial symbol. And he used an airbrush. I used neither. I rattle-canned the model black with Testor’s black spray, then applied white decals I found on eBay, before some dry brushing, highlights, and detail work. While Mr. Adan did a single TIE, I went a step further and painted a wingman. In fact, I picked up several more TiEs and a Devastator to paint in the same scheme. Then I can field a unique squadron in a custom paintjob. I think the effect will be quite stunning when the group is finished.
The last ship is a Y-Wing that came originally in the Scum faction paint scheme from the Most Wanted box. The ship was mostly a light cream of tan with some parts in a coppery color. I added a blue over parts, repainted the astromech, and used a dark wash to dirty it up. Y-Wings are all over the place on the secondary marked and I wanted one that looked cobbled together from the wreckage of two or three ships. It looks the part.
Lastly, I dug out a wild west bank I started ages ago. I crafted a base from a floor tile, and started adding a wood floor and the boardwalk around the building. I didn’t get far on this project, and look to finally get this one completed sometime next month.
That’s it for this update. Not a lot of hobby time, but as much daddy-daughter time as I could fit it.
Some time ago I happened across a series of photos of the deconstruction and reconstruction of a YT-1300 light freighter model from Fantasy Flight Games’ X-Wing miniatures game. It was a set of great photos showing step by step how a crafty modeler cut apart a great model, and then rebuilt it into an even better model. I saved all the pictures with the intention to build my own version. You call it copying, I call it an homage to a great conversion.
Here is the finished model that inspired me. Unfortunately, it was so long ago I have lost the link to this crafty fella’s blog. I believe his name is Robert Sakaluk. I blame FFG and the closure of their forum and all the great repaints and modeling that were stashed in the X-Wing and Armada areas of that defunct forum.
Inspiration YT model pics
I had purchased the original Millennium Falcon probably just as it was released. I didn’t realize (or remember, at least) that I happened upon X-Wing just as Wave 2 was being released. It included two of my favorite ships in the entire Star Wars Universe, the Millennium Falcon and Slave-1, Bob Fett’s modified Firespray-31. Fully painted, and very detailed, I had to have them. That they belonged to a great miniatures game was a nice bonus.
As I fell into the deep hole that is X-Wing, I found the FFG forums and was inspired by the conversions and repaints everyone was doing. One particular fellow had down a conversion that moved the off-center cockpit of the Falcon to the centerline. And it was repainted a light gray and blue. That guy went by the screen name ZombieHedgehog. I was able to commission him to make a copy of the model he had posted. It turned out fantastic:
Blue center cockpit Falcon
He explained everything that went into the project, but I wasn’t comfortable trying it on my own. I’m not sure why, I have been building plastic model kits since I was probably eight-years-old. Something about hacking into a painted model gave me pause.
Time went on and I picked up two more Falcon models. FFG released a version modified and painted to represent the version seen in the sequel movies. Then another model was released of the version from the movie when the Falcon still belonged to Lando.
Somewhere in there came the inspiration to build my own armoured version of the classic YT-1300. Duly inspired, I picked up yet another YT model from FFG. And started the project. Honestly, I don’t know exactly how long this project took. Months. Over a year in total. I would do a little work, get frustrated, and set it aside for weeks. Having never done something like this before, the learning curve was steep.
I had purchased a scribing tool before I started. And a pack of engine nozzles intended for super detailing Gundam models (I believe.) I wanted the old-school feel of round engine nozzles for this build and made an eBay purchase. And then another when I realized I needed more of a particular nozzle size than the pack had. Then I picked up some Evergreen plastic in sheets and rods and strips. With all the supplies in hand, I had to take the first step.
Cutting into a perfectly good model.
Using a razor saw and cutting slow and careful, I tore that model apart. Stripping the entire cockpit out, and then removing the engines and much of the rear superstructure, I had a carcass that was ready for anything. I printed out all the pictures I had found and spent a lot of time staring at them. Progress was slow. I would make a few small parts, or cut and shape a piece of plastic, then wait days or weeks. Slowly it came back together. There were some complex curves that gave me fits. I made and discarded a number of templates and parts trying to rebuild that model. And used greenstuff to hide my mistakes or gaps I gave up trying to fit properly.
As pieces came together, I began to detail the model. Scribing panel lines went a long way towards making it look more like a space ship and less like a chunk of plastic. Tiny pieces of plastic were cut and glued into place to give visual interest. The engine bay was detailed. I constructed some engines and even used putty to hold a couple engine layouts in place to poll some friends on Facebook about which looked best. More cutting. Lots of filing. Sanding. Filling. Gluing. Some days it seemed like it was never going to be complete.
side by side engine layouts
And then, it was. I held a finished model in my hands and checked it over and over for anything else I could do. I think this is one project I could pick at nearly forever. Finally, I called it done and set it aside.
No idea what else I was doing at the time, but it sat unpainted for a long time. Eventually I primed it, and began to paint it. I liked the red and gray of the inspiration model, and gave it a similar paint job. Being a space freighter meant I got to dirty it up, using several washes and inks to put rust, oil, and fuel drips and streaks all over it. Unlike the original guy who was good enough to be able to construct it so he could paint it in subassemblies, I had a complete model to paint. Which meant the engine bay isn’t nearly as well painted as I would like.
Overall, I am extremely happy with how the model came out. I have a distinct YT model, in a flashy paint scheme, that I built myself.
Here are couple other repaints I have down. Just for fun, or before a particular model was released.
X-Wing is still a great game. I have enough ships to play monster games, or throw a whole tourney on my own. And several are custom paints. Which makes it a little bit cooler. With the confidence gained, I built an armoured Nebulon-B for Star Wars Armada, and began painting all the tiny fighters for the squadrons in Armada.
A chance image of a converted model led to months of construction and painting. Funny how internet wanderings can do that.
It’s a word I hadn’t heard before I started listening to a Harry Potter podcast (Owl Post for those interested.) I instantly knew what the speaker was trying to convey. Fandom. The entirety of things around a series of books, movies or tv shows. The series is the main focus, but also includes all the fan fiction, fan art, official books, unofficial books, conventions, forums, and more. All of it falls under the term fandom.
For some series, that is a lot of stuff! One of my primary fandoms is Star Wars. The sheer quantity of things produced in the Star Wars universe and fandom is unimaginably vast. There are more books than one person could own. Even though there are only 11 official movies (Stop it. The Christmas Special and the Droids movie are NOT official…), there are tons of other media and products in this vast universe. From a bunch of behind the scenes and documentaries on Star Wars, to an episode of The Toys That Made Us (a Netflix series on the toys and their development) there is a load of visual media. In addition to the movies there are three fantastic animated series and at least one animated movie. Books have been printed, comic book series published, toys made in quantity. Board games, table top games, computer and console games from a dozen publishers. So many things I can barely keep up.
I can’t really discuss the books much, as I have only read two trilogies and a handful of other books. I got soured on a terrible trilogy while I was in the Army. It was horrible. So very bad. But there was a distinct lack of options at the time, and there were three books which helped pass the time. But they were so bad It was roughly 15 years before I picked up another Star Wars novel. I have several waiting to be read, but for the last year or so I have not read much. I will read them eventually.
Alongside the movies and books, the next biggest part of this fandom, for me at least, is the music. In fact, while I am typing this my daughter is playing Burying the Dead from the Season 7 Clone Wars soundtrack on the piano. My car doesn’t have a cd player, but does have a USB port that has a thumb drive plugged in with around 2,000 songs on it. And of those are six disks of the extended soundtracks from the original trilogy, plus Rogue One, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi soundtracks. So not many days go by without a Stars Wars tune playing. No opening theme can beat John Williams’ Main Title. It will never get old, and will always trigger fantastic memories. There are so many iconic themes in the music of Star Wars. Every fan recognizes Luke’s Theme. Leia’s Them and the Imperial March. My Dad heart swells with pride when my daughter catches Boba Fett’s Theme in a brief sequence of notes. Or when she plays a variety of themes from across the saga. The music is so iconic, and so powerful.
The other media, of course, is the huge range of computer and console games. I’ve never been much of an electronic gamer. I do remember playing X-Wing on the computer back in the 1990s. For all the limitations of computers at the time, it was a fun game. Later I played Rogue Squadron (for Game Cube) on my kids’ Wii. It was just as much fun, but the controller that replaced the joystick was harder to master. My kids are pretty big console gamers, with Battlefront 2, Jedi: Fallen Order and Squadrons getting their fair share of X-Box time. I have played a bit of Battlefront 2 and enjoyed it. I just don’t have the mind to remember all the buttons. There are so many buttons!
Beyond all the media there are the toys and collectibles. If you get lost in the books, good luck with the toys. From the original Kenner line form the last 1970s, to the super detailed Vintage Series today, they are 44 years of very cool toys. Like a fool, I sold all my original toys right after I graduated high school. My brother’s friend was a collector and he wanted what I had. I was growing up and didn’t see the value in keeping the toys around. My dad asked me pointedly “What if Star Wars comes back? What if your kids like Star Wars?” My reply was simple and short-sighted ‘There isn’t going to be more Star Wars”. Wow, was I ever wrong? Star Wars came roaring back, and both my kids LOVE Star Wars.
When I was at Star Wars Celebration IX in 2019, I was blown away by the number of toys and collectibles there were. Stuff I had no idea existed. Model kits. Helmets. Light sabers. Action figures. Model kits of action figures. Legos. Comics. Art. So many things! You could spend thousands just to get started. I kept saying I wasn’t going to buy anything save the one board game I bought, but I faltered in my will power and ended up with a Boba Fett figure from the Black Series of 6” figures. Just one figure couldn’t hurt, right?
Ha! Boba needed friends. And I started a new side hobby. More than 350 figures have been released, so I quickly realized this not a place to get crazy and try for them all. With each fig costing at least $20, the simple math is too much for me. Then I had to factor in that I was jumping in six years after the first release, so many were unavailable except on the secondary market. And some of those prices were insane. I still have a few figures I really want but refuse to pay the price people are asking on eBay. $150 for one figure? I will take a hard pass. I did go over my budget for a couple. I won’t lie. My daughter has a couple favorite characters and I paid good money for those particular figs. One even traveled from Japan because I couldn’t find a better deal on this side of the Pacific.
I looked over all the available figs and came up with a list of the ones I wanted. I started with my favorite characters, then a few of the Bad Guys. Classics like storm troopers and TiE pilots. I had settled on just the Original Trilogy figures, but looking at a few outside those movies, it expanded to a set from all 11 movies. Then the Mandalorian, too. I am down to the end. I only need about 20 figures, and then I will call it complete. Unfortunately, a couple I want are very hard to get. At least at a price I am willing to pay. I want a display cabinet (or two) for them, but Ikea has been out of the one I want for months. Big disclaimer. I open my figs. And maybe I play with them. My daughter enjoys posing them for me. A couple weeks back I found Anakin and Padme locked in a tender embrace. Geez. So embarrassing for all the rest of the figs not in a relationship!
Beyond the Black series figures, another interest in Star Wars is gaming. Table top gaming to be exact. I’ve mentioned before my love for two of Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars games, X-Wing and Armada. Besides the awesomely cool painted minis, the games play so well and let me experience fighter and capital ship combat with all the ships, large and small, from the Star Wars universe. Even those collections are nearing their ends. I have all the ships I need to play huge games. And I have most of the ships I know or recognize. I need a few to fill out the Sequel Trilogy fleets, and more droid ships for the Prequels/Clone Wars, then I’ll be done with X-Wing. I got into Armada later than X-Wing, so I don’t have very many ships. Couple that with the higher price point for Armada ships and it’s a harder collection to complete. I would play X-Wing every day if I had time and opponents. There is something super cool about pushing X-Wings and TiEs around asteroid belts and having Han and the Falcon come zooming in. Or playing the sound of a seismic charge REALLY loud when Jango or Boba drops one in game. All those times you wished you were in the cockpit of a Star Wars ship? This is your chance.
Two of my favorite board games are Star Wars games. Both are published by Fantasy Flight Games. Rebellion and Outer Rim are two incredibly fun games. My only problem with Rebellion is it is only a two-player game. But what a game it is! Playing as either the Empire or the Rebellion, both sides are vying for power across the galaxy while building up forces to move against the enemy. Control planets, build a Death Star (or 3) and send key characters to bolster attacks or defenses. It is a ton of fun and I highly recommend it. Outer Rim is a four-player game where each player is a scoundrel in the Outer Rim. Avoiding patrols from the Empire, Rebellion, Black Sun Cartel and the Hutts is only part of the strategy. Each player is attempting to gain fame points to become the most feared bounty hunter in the Outer Rim. Run jobs, deliver cargo, and hunt bounties in an attempt to gain that fame. You can gather crew, upgrade or replace your ship, and pick up tools to help in your tasks. You can avoid interactions with the other players for the most part. Until someone has a crew member you have a bounty on. Great fun. Better than Rebellion. If you like Stars Wars and board games, run out and pick this game up.
Conventions, or Cons, are a huge aspect of being a fan for some people. Comic-Cons always have Star Wars collectibles for sale. They nearly always have some cast member taking pictures or signing autographs. And there are always the cosplayers representing their favorite characters. I have only been to two cons that weren’t strictly for tabletop gaming. Both were very enjoyable, and I hope to go again. A comic-con in Indianapolis Illinois, USA was my first non-gaming con and I was blown away. The cosplayers were incredible. Such attention to detail and well-made costumes. The artists producing art for sale were so talented. We have a couple very cool Star Wars art pieces now. There were no forums with Star Wars celebrities, but based off the two we attended (James and Oliver Phelps and Sean Astin) any forum with a Star Wars actor would be worth it. We even stood in line to meet the Phelps brothers and get a picture taken with them. They are simply cooler than words. They were so gracious in the time we had with them. I’d love to hang out with them and play some games or cards, or just joke around. Two of the coolest people I have ever met. Then I had one of the defining moments of my nerd life. One of my best friends invited me to Star Wars Celebration IX in Chicago Illinois, USA. The anticipation was more than I imagined. And the opening day was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Tens of thousands of fans of a single fandom were gathered to celebrate everything Star Wars. I’ve never seen so many cosplayers in Rebel flight suits or storm trooper armor. In fact, I didn’t know that many existed! The vendor stalls, the forums, the actors, the life-size X-Wing and TiE fighter. Everything. We attended a forum with all the main actors from Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. It was amazing. My fav? Billy Dee Williams. When he strolled onstage the feeling was electric. Just being in the same room with all of them was a nerd’s dream come true. Hearing them discuss their experiences making the films was beyond cool. Then we were privileged to be the first to see the trailer for episode IX. The cast left the stage and the lights dropped. The trailer ran and when, spoiler alert, the Emperor was heard laughing at the end of the trailer the room sat in stunned silence. Dim red lights came up on the stage and a lone, robed figure, walked onstage. It was impossible to see who it was until he raised his microphone and spoke one line in the deep, guttural voice of the Darth Sidious: “Play it again.” The place erupted. Ian McDiarmid, the Emperor himself, was onstage. Incredible. Such a treat to be there for. I can never thank my friend enough for allowing me to experience that.
The television series are also deep in my fandom. The Mandalorian is one of my all-time favorite tv shows, and the time between seasons is a real challenge! I am slowly working through the animated series The Clone Wars. The main reason is I am trying to drag out my experience is since there are years before any more feature films are released, I need to ration what I haven’t seen to make it last. After Clone Wars I will definitely watch Rebels. And most likely watch Rebellion, even though the other main fan in the house isn’t big on Rebellion.
All that leads back to the reason there is a fandom for Star Wars in the first place. The movies. Mr. Lucas gave us a glimpse into a galaxy far, far away way back in 1977. I am pretty sure he had no idea his space opera would lead to this incredible fandom. Although I could never pick a favorite movie, A New Hope will always be in my personal Top Five Favs. I don’t recall exactly when I first saw it, but I cannot recall a time before I saw it either. I believe I have seen all the rest of the 11 movies in the theater. I have no distinct memories of Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi on the big screen, so I made sure I saw all three Original Trilogy movies when the special editions were re-released. I saw all eight of the other movies the first week of release, if not the first day. I saw Solo three times on the big screen, breaking a long-standing personal rule of never buying a movie ticket more than once. I usually watch the entire saga once a year. At least. The movies are the most important part of the fandom for me. The sets. The ships. The costumes. The characters. The planets and cultures. There is so much eye candy in every shot. The original special effects are legendary and still hold up today. All of my favorite space ships come from Star Wars. Most of my favorite villains do as well. And my all-time favorite fictional weapon is from Star Wars. Do I even need to say it? The lightsaber. Seriously, is there anyone who wouldn’t love a real lightsaber? How else I am I going to cut my way into the villain’s blast door-protected lair? Strangely, I do not have a good replica in my collection. Probably because part of my brain knows that one would not be enough. Two would not either. Probably not even three. So, none it is.
I hope you are still with me through this dive into one fandom. One I hold dear. Yet, there are more. I am a fan of the Lord of the Rings. In book, movie and music, this fandom comes closest to my love of Star Wars. The themes of loyalty and honor resonate deeply with me. I really like the Firefly series and all the attendant parts. Malcom Reynolds could fly right into a Star Wars scene and no one would bat an eye. I even have a great board game to go with it. I really like the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes. For me it’s mostly the movies. I enjoy a good graphic novel now and again, and occasionally read a comic compilation from the library. There is simply too much to keep track of, so I limit myself to the movies. And tv. WandaVision was great, and I am looking forward to the other series planned. My last fandom would have to be as a fan of Games Workshop models and games. No surprise there. Multiple previous posts have been about my, um, obsession? I am looking forward to some official tv and animated offerings from the GW universe. In particular the Eisenhorn series. If it is half as good as the books, I will have a new entry in my tv favorites list.
There you have it. My look at fandoms. Another post will delve into why these fandoms are so popular with so many. I’d love to hear what fandoms you hold dear. What specific universes, or general genres do you feel drawn to? What parts of those fandoms do you explore? And why are you drawn to those fandoms? What is it in those particular book, movie, tv or comic series that you find interesting? Please, fill the comment sections, I truly want to know what you love in all the great fandoms out there.