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Monday, December 15, 2014

Polar Lights Robby the Robot

And now -as Monty Python would say- for something completely different!

If the phrases "Fritz Lang's Metropolis" or "Forbidden Planet" say nothing to you, just skip this and continue to the airplanes.
To the fans of vintage science fiction Robby the Robot needs no introduction. To the ones that era not, nothing will make sense anyway.
The foundational "Forbidden Planet" movie featured this mechanical character that later on transited through the years all across the board appearing in other movies and several TV shows. Today is an iconic symbol loved by supporters of the genre.
I finally could get my hands on this kit thanks to the good offices of my dear and trusty Burbank House of Hobbies, who are the nicest, most reliable and fast hobby supplier I have seen in years.
This Polar Lights edition includes the figure of the female character of the original movie, Altaira, whose attention Leslie Nielsen (yes, pal, the same) managed to pick up.
This kit is different from other releases as the legs and arms of the robot are differently posed, and includes a new base with the movie poster background in cardboard, a bit cheesy as it should be with these early examples of the genre.
The model is quite hefty, indifferently molded, quite heavy and the details are coarse, again, in line with what you could expect from a "figure" model. Lots and lots of seam kilometers to scrape, fill, sand and smooth-out. The fit is not bad, though.
The number of parts is not high, even with the added female figure.
You can find on the Net some "upgrades" for this kit: photoetched parts and some electronics that include light and sound effects. Although you could add those to your model with some extra work, it is not my cuppa, preferring personally to leave things as science-fiction nature made them. 
This model is being built for -and dedicated to- my younger son, Mateo, a fan of the genre and computer/programming wizard. 
 Contents with sprue trees individually bagged, instructions and....Mini-Poster!:
 A chopped-up woman is included, don't panic, it is not a CSI prop:
 The chunky robot parts with the chromed sprue:
 Some parts released from their sprues:
 Clamp City, the place were robots are assembled. Or at least this one. Clamps are a must to secure the parts while they dry:
 Dry-run of some components and pencil for scale:
Once the parts that were glued together are ready, the real work commences with this model: the treatment of the seams. These were first carefully scrapped with a dull blade, then sanded with sponge sanding stick on the curved parts and hard sanding sticks on the flat parts. As said the fit is not bad, especially for a kit made in China, but surely some filler will be needed. Sanding also extended to parts that stand alone too, since there are some rough edges and mold lines that need attention:
 After sanding, all the parts were washed and allowed dry. Now the filler/putty needs to be applied:
Liquified Tamiya putty is applied to all seams, to be later sanded smooth:
After the customary several sessions of sanding and applying more putty, a final washing and drying and the colors were airbrushed. The "dismembered woman" was airbrushed using a home-made mix that rendered a suitable flesh tone, using artist paint and some acrylic thinner. For the dress I tried a new product, Model Master Blue Clear Flip Flop enamel, that was supposed to change hue varying the angle. IT WAS A TOTAL FLOP, as its name indicates, and did not work at all, leaving only a clear film with almost no color, surely not blue, and did not change. The traditional movie gold was then applied. The hair was also painted in acrylics of two tones. The kit maker made these sub-assemblies to facilitate painting for the modeler, so all components can be given their proper color and then glued, and the seams correspond to natural separations, like dress, hair, etc.
 Gloss black enamel was applied to all robot parts in preparation for the Alclad, which I think will be steel, since it matches very well the movie stills I have. Painting revealed some blemishes, though, so the robot torso will have to be puttied, sanded, smoothed-out and repainted:
 Darling, dear, what is that woman doing on you desk?:
To correct the torso blemishes, it is airbrushed with a product new to me, Alclad gray primer and microfiller. It worked well:
Alclad steel is airbrushed:
The ancillary parts are now colored as per stills of the original movie. It is now when the mediocre quality and production of the kit is most noticeable. The clear parts have flash and excrescences, and they are poorly molded:

 Look at this one half of an "ear": the two bigger towers are flash, the two smaller pips are the locating pins. Man, this is not a bargain kit, the designers and the Chinese factory could have been just a little bit more careful:
 Same here:
 More parts need color application, in this case a chest knob that should be gold, not "silver" plated:
 And these are the worst: the said "ears" which are totally, absolutely awful and do not match reality, and the "transducers", which come as solid plastic and should have been included with the clear parts. The clear circles you see are the ones I am producing to replace the solid parts:
The clear parts are cleaned and given a floor polish bath:
The base is prepared:
 The head is assembled. Watch out because the clear parts that have those little accordions are a very poor fit and are all different, in spite of being all "#15". The shorter ones should go in the middle, the longer ones at the ends:
The modification of the "transducers" start by chopping the fins:
 The "furrows" between them are used to accept the half-circle clear parts previously cut:
 The "ears" needed extensive filling, puttying, sanding, etc., a base of black paint is applied:
 And then steel paint is applied before inserting the half-discs:
The fit problems with the head components continue. This head was a....headache!:
 The torso is joined to the legs and the chest plate with its additional parts is added:
 All head components in place, after much huffing and puffing and shaving and filling and...bloody head!!! :-)
 The clear face plate finally in place:
Do not glue the arms before placing the figure, it won't fit. First position the robot's left arm around the figure and glue it to the torso. Immediately, before the glue sets, add the right hand. All these parts have an excellent fit (contrary to the head's bloody details):
 Let the whole thing rest until the glue dries. Watch out that the robot does not get too fond of Altaira...:
For the photos of the completed robot please go here:

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