Klingon Bird of Prey
I have the great pleasure of introducing Ed Bailey to this Gallery. This Bird of Prey is fantastic! I look forward to showing even more from this artist!
This model was entered at Wonderfest 2013 and won a Gold Award for Vehicles and the award for Best Round 2 Kit, Adult Division. Personally I don’t think it’s that good, but you can get away with more little defects on a gnarly, weathered Klingon ship. (And Klingons call the Enterprise a garbage scow!)
This is the Round 2 re-release of the AMT kit, with landing gear designed by Ed Holt. This build is partially accurized and detailed according to my imagination. Landing gear bays in particular had to be imagined, as there are no references to go by. It also has far more lighting effects than I ever tried to put in a model before.
About the lighting… There are two simultaneous lighting effects for the engine glow: a slow repeating fade in and out, and a random flicker. The fade in/out is a hacked Christmas light control board. I found out it doesn’t look like a smooth fade on video: the camera can catch a flicker the eye cannot, and my hack fixed this. The random flicker is from hacked LED tea candles: it also shows up in a dome on the bottom of the warp core, a bit of detailing I dreamed up to add above the entry ramp under the ship. A control panel next to an open door at the top of the ramp has another lighting effect, with blinking LEDs illuminating fiber optics. The rest of the ship has pretty much the standard lighting familiar to Star Trek viewers: internal lighting, navigation lights, the photon emitter and deflector ring, and the red lit rectangular vents under the forward part of the main hull. A bit of extra lighting is added where I detailed the command pod.
Accurization includes separation of the glowing engine part into two pieces, filling in the dentil molding detail in the space between, adding wing hinges behind the baffles (though these are hard to see in the studio model pictures and I had to make them up), detailing of the upper sides of the little wings on the rear of the hull, and recessing the molding on the trailing edge of the wing. There is a lot more to do to make this model accurate, but I had to stop somewhere!
Detailing includes removal of the molded-in piping on top of the engine deck and replacing it with styrene rod, photoetch over the detailed recesses on the outward facing vents on either side of the engine deck, cleanup of some of the hull plating (which isn’t too sharp in places because it has to pop out of an injection mold), opening out windows, those rectangular vents under the hull, and the deflector ring filigree, scratchbuilding some detail to add exposed plumbing to the polygonal opening on the top rear of the command pod, scratchbuilding an open airlock where the hatch on top of the forward part of the command pod. I completely replaced the kit detail with brass tubing for the ring and a styrene disc for the hatch, which lifts up and swings out of the way like a hatch on a Panther tank. The airlock interior has a door sliding open, a lit control panel and lighting fixtures with fiber optic, a ladder set into a recess like in a Jefferies tube, and two 1/350 scale Klingons. I also added a ladder on the outside of the command pod going down the starboard side with a Klingon figure. Two mysterious protuberances on the starboard side I decided were for hooking up power conduits to when the ship is landed, and I used them just for that: my wiring enters the ship here from a small scratchbuilt maintenance building that I designed to follow a Klingon aesthetic, but which exists to hide some of the electronics.
The underside of the ship is where I really went nuts with detailing. I hollowed out the landing gear bays to make them deep enough for the large landing gear to retract into them, and I packed these with details like conduits and structural shapes. The boarding ramp uses a piece of the kit part for the gear-up version, and treadplating made with scribed styrene, with photoetched handrails mounted on wire stanchions, and of course, more Klingon figures. The warp core over their heads is Sculpey, styrene shapes, and a found object for a clear dome, which is lit from within by fiber optics connected to flickering LEDs. The landing gear doors are hollowed out on the blank upper side and detailed with styrene. The landing gear themselves are great, but I added detail to these too, replacing the Y-shaped bracing struts (which didn’t fit anyway) with scratchbuilt brass hydraulic cylinders, and adding wire to the landing gear struts to resemble hydraulics.
I chose to make the ship basically olive green on the outside, brick red on the inside, and heavily weathered. It’s mostly brushed on Polly Scale paints over red primer with Polly Scale Oily Black and Grimy Black. It burns my butt that Testors is discontinuing Polly Scale paints! They were my all time favorite brushable acrylic, able to be brushed on so they looked airbrushed. One more note on the paint job: I have painted enough Klingon Birds of Prey with the red markings on the underside of the wings, which looks Romulan to my eye, so I stopped doing that with this model. Klingon green all the way, baby!
Decaling is minimal and done in black, as on US Army helicopters. I printed them to fit using a laser printer. A Klingon trefoil on the port wing and “tuq keng” or “House of Kang” on the starboard. I just think Kang is cool, probably because of Michael Ansara, and chose to make this ship belong to his house.
All in all, this build was tough because of packing all that lighting in such a small space and because of the Wonderfest deadline, but it was worth it and I’m eager to do more of the same!
Ed “Bellerophon” Bailey
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