William Blackmore's whitestar.

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Building The Whitestar

By William J. Blackmore - images & text © 2000

[Comin atcha!]

One of the most unusual, visually pleasing, and central ships on Babylon 5 is the White Star; a vessel based partly on Vorlon and Minbari technology, and said to be partially organic. A couple of years ago I found a listing for a resin kit of this ship made by ANUBUS Productions in a magazine and sent away for the poop sheet. When I got it the pamphlet it said that the kit had been discontinued. Last year I went to the IPMS Nationals in Orlando, Florida and just literally stumbled across a copy of the ship. According to the vendor ANUBUS only made 100 copies before Warner Bros. stepped on them. After a bit of wrangling I secured the kit and took it home.

[Tail Feathers]

^ Tail, showing decal over chalked "veins"

[Click for larger]

^ Rear view (click for larger).

[Click for larger]

^ Closeup of bridge section (click for larger).

The model was cast beautifully with little flash or voids. The parts fit together with ease. The instructions were also adequate, but could have used a little more clarity. At any rate I built the kit easily and without any sort of special techniques, with the only exception being that I drilled out holes in each face of the major matching parts of the fuselage and tail sections and inserted brass rod to increase the mechanical strength of the joints.

I used CA glue to smooth out and fill the joints instead of model putty. It tends to sand smoother, and lasts longer than the putty, and is a lot more durable.

I primed the model with Floquil brand Railroad Grey Primer. I buffed the entire surface with 5-0 steel wool and then a tack rag. I then went through a whole range of paints trying to find the right combinations with my airbrush to achieve the effect of the living skin of the ship. My opinion is that it cannot be done accurately this way. After several tries I soon decided that decals were the only way to go. I paid an enourmous amount of money for this kit and I wanted it to be perfect. I checked out several of the custom decal houses and they all wanted about $ 400.00 to do the job, and it would take a number of months.

After the model sat for several months, I managed to contact a guy who had image files that gave me a clear idea of the what the surface of the ship looked like. After a few days of banging away on the computer, I had a 3.5 disc that I took to Kinko's and printed my own decals on clear decal paper. I sealed each sheet with a bit of Testor's Glosscote, then went to apply them. Before I did, I decided that I wanted some depth to the surface of the model.

To achieve this I first painted the model with Model Master Light Grey. Then I used medium grey pastel chaulks to draw the viens on to the surface. After a day of drying, I applied several light coats of Tamiya Clear Smoke, which gave the model some depth and allowed one to still see the viens below. I then applied several coats of Glosscote. I buffed the model with a tack rag between each step. After polishing I cut each of the colored decal sections apart and applied them to the model, using a setting solution, instead of trying to apply each panel as a whole.
Doing this allowed me to eliminate much of the clear portions between the colored areas, though it took me a lot longer. It also eliminated a lot of the wrinkles that tend to crop up around the compound curves. Making my own decals for this project was the only way to get the color variations just right on the model. Thank heavens for the internet! I had to leave the areas at the center of the fuselage and at the wing tips painted blueish/purple because I did not want to ruin the effect by trying to put the wave pattern sheet on there, and have it full of wrinkles or other flaws. If one of you can do it then you're a better man than I. The decal set is 5 pages long. The wave pattern I included in the set takes up a whole page. I would be curious to see if it can be applied to the above described areas (see the closeup of the center section) in a way that actually looks good. I feel like a guy who is really good could probably do it, and I may even try it a little later on.

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