Perry Rhodan - Marco Polo & Sol

All the rage in Germany, the Perry Rhodan series has been running since the Sixties(!?), yet most folk outside Germany won't have heard of it. The series is comic strip based.

Marco Polo

Kit Details

The "Marco Polo" makes up into a good looking and unusual model. Although basic construction would be simple, lighting it is easy (very simple additions required) and looks great - if you've never lit a model before, start with this one! The construction sequence has to be different to the instructions for effective surface finishing and painting. Most of the parts for the 19.5cm diameter ship are landing struts and gun turrets, and there are 205 decals on the decal sheet. Mouldings were clean, but the fit of some hull plates was a bit poor. Although a quick trawl of the web reveals an abundance of images to chose from, there are no photographs around - only CGI shots and drawings. The Marco Polo ship is 2.5 km across and roughly spherical, with a forest of 24 landing struts and 32 gun turrets protruding from the hull, three rings of windows and what looks like a plasma reaction drive system that runs with a green exhaust.

The first thing to warn you about is part number 5: a large hoop from which 4 hull plates sprout. This ain't sprue: it's a structural part that will join the two hull shells together, so don't cut it up!

Because I wanted to light the ship I decided not to glue the hull halves together, so I had to achieve an excellent fit of the two hull halves. So, placing a well soaked 180 grit paper on a smooth work top, I gently ground the rim of each hull half to give a completely level and flat edge - that made each half fit the other perfectly. The landing struts were going to be tricky, so I made a circular template out of plasticard to help. From the instruction sheet the correct strut angle is 33 from vertical and, from the dimensions of the kit, this places the outside of the landing pads at a radius of 8.0cm, so that's the size of hole I cut out of a thick card sheet with 20 lines marked at 18 steps around the hole to help space the pads properly. When the hull with the freshly glued struts was turned right-way-up and placed in the centre of the card template, the struts splayed out until they met the lip of the hole and stopped at the right angle - and in a circle. 

Finishing

For the grey, I tried 6 different shades before settling on plain automotive primer, so that was good news. For the bluish-grey hoops, forget the Humbrol grey-blue 79 suggested: 144 mid-blue is almost perfect. For moss green 62 I used grass-green 80, and for grey-green I used olive 180. Engine nozzles were wiped with a 50/50 mix of matt bronze green 171 and grey-blue 79 (I'd bought it so I used it!) diluted to about 1/3 with thinners. Landing struts were painted Citadel Mithril silver. Weathering (applied over the decals, of course) had to take into account the 2.5km size, so I was looking for subtle effects. I made paper templates with panel cut-outs along the edge, and airbrushed faint panelling with a 2:1 mix of light earth 84 and matt black 33 well diluted with thinners, then wiped mid grey 106 diluted to 1/5 randomly down the hull with a small stiff brush dabbed nearly dry - made a passable imitation of dirty water run-off on a huge structure like a building. If this thing is 2.5km high, it'll stick up through weather and catch lots of rain. Landing struts were wiped with Citadel armour wash. Nothing remarkable about the decals, except that the hangar doors were trimmed right up to the edge for fitting to the plasticard panels as described above. The whole thing was layered with a good skin of Humbrol MattCote. I built a small square base with cotton-wool relief hardened with PVA glue and textured with sand while the glue was still wet. The base hid a twin D cell battery box, switch and 2.5mm jack plug for the lighting.

 

Spaceship SOL

Kit Details

"Spaceship Sol" bears a strong family resemblance - it's basically two Marco Polo's stuck together with a cylinder, although the scaling factor is greater, giving a diameter of 13cm compared to Macro Polo's of 19.5cm. The Sol is 8km long, but the 24000:1 scale meant that a 1m2 window would need a 0.04mm bit, so I ruled out lighting. Even the box art didn't attempt to show windows!

Assembly

The joining cylinder is the most awkward, so I started there. It's made of two 6-segment sections, and it's best to make these up in one step, so set all the parts out in advance: as with the Marco Polo, be careful with the order of the parts. For each section, I glued the 6 segments together quickly, then located (but didn't glue) the end rings in the correct ends, and taped them in place. This adds a lot of support for the next step, which is to wrap the cylinder up with elastic bands, pulling the segments together against the end rings, thereby ensuring a proper shape. When they had set, I untaped and removed the end rings and ground the ends of the cylinders level with 180 grit w&d paper.

Sphere assembly was straightforward, but a look ahead to painting revealed that half of the bumps round the surface of the kit shouldn't have been bumps at all, but holes - like the engine exhaust nozzles of the Marco Polo. I drilled 1mm pilot holes through the appropriate bumps using the box art as a guide, then stuck bean-sized lumps of Milliput over the pilot holes on the inside of each sphere part - this provided extra thickness needed to turn the bumps into nozzles with a counter-sinking bit after the Milliput had hardened. The edges of the spheres were ground level again as with the Marco Polo. 

The best place for a stand was near the centre of gravity, which meant further adapting the central ring - this was easily done with a 2.5mm power jack socket epoxied into place from the inside and located in one of the door openings.

Finishing

I began by spraying the whole thing with automotive grey primer, then masking large areas off before all-over coats of red 174 then blue 25, each thinned to 50%. That's easy to say quickly, but it took over an hour to change the masking pattern between sprayings! Paint tests showed me that spraying these colours directly over the grey base coat toned them down nicely to match the box lid - red can be difficult to get right. I couldn't see the gloss-mossy-green area on the box lid that was specified in the instructions, so I left it out. Greys 64 and 106, white and black used as per the instructions finished the painting off. To make the stand, I built a small square base with 1mm plasticard sheet and a bit of 8mm brass rod, which is just right for the 2.5mm power socket installed in the central ring.

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