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Starscream's Brigade

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by Bob Kensinger

Scale: Not Stated

I chose a classic episode of Transformers for my "Wrecks" entry titled Starscream's Brigade. In this fan favorite, Starscream shoots his mouth off yet again and is banished by Megatron to Guadalcanal. Shortly after his arrival, Starscream finds a Japanese Zero wing and determines that this was once the site of a human war. He uncovers various vehicles and lines them up as they are to be the basis for his new army. After returning from his home world with stolen personality chips, he installs them into the discarded war machines and gives life to the five new Decepticons that would later be known as the mighty gestalt, Bruticus.

Picking this as a subject for a diorama has it's questions and challenges. It's historically inaccurate, of course, but how much do you change, if anything? Do you go for a realistic interpretation of this scene or stay cartoony? I decided to find a middle ground and keep much of it cartoon accurate in respect to colors and scale, but make the scene a little more realistic. Now first off, the colors and scale of the vehicles are a nightmare. A yellow and purple Jeep? A bomber not much larger than a fighter? These could be mentally damaging to anyone not used to the source material right off the bat because it just looks and feels wrong. Since the source is essentially a 30 minute commercial for an 80's toy, accuracy was not a priority. I hope my translation fits in and makes the scene both believable and still have the cartoonish charm. (Refer to cartoon screen shots photo if you are not familiar with this episode or subject).

Starscream - Starscream is a right out of the package PVC figure from Takara. I had thought of doing some painting or alterations of him, but the more I looked at it, the more he fit in as is. So Starscream is something I take no credit for since he's untouched. He isn't the focus of the diorama, so I hope I can be forgiven. He carries a hot pink crackled glass bead that really has some great effects that don't photograph well. It's very close to the effects used in the show when the light hits it right.

The tank was the worst part to decipher as it was nothing I had seen before and definitely was nowhere near Guadalcanal.

Closest reference I could find was German armor. I finally decided to kit bash two die-cast tanks with the body being of German origin and the top a more modern US turret. It seemed to fit well scale wise and overall look. Some paint and weathering was added, but not too much. I believe that during the course of digging these up, Starscream cleaned some of them a bit and they all have different degrees of rust, dirt, and breakage.

The Jeep is another die-cast vehicle that I modified. Removed headlights, shattered the windshield, removed excess equipment, and added the .50 calibur gun. It pained me to paint this that monstrous yellow and purple, but in the end I think it worked well. Still an eyesore without the back story though. About this time I longed for a styrene kit since the die-cast was harder to modify and not really my medium.

The bomber was a cheap styrene "Memphis Belle" that I assembled and promptly destroyed. Broken windows, bent props, bent wings, rust pitting, jungle growth, and ripped fuselage all around. It also sports an awful purple paint job, but I managed to tone it down with many washes and real rust. This one had more growth on it so I used various moss and lichen bits for the effect.

The Fighter is another styrene kit and I was happy with the result. This was a cheap Dauntless kit and again I modified it with rips, tears, bent props, bent wings, rust, and vegetation. There is an odd part of the cartoon when the personality chip is put in an opened "hood." You see a series of lines are inside rather than an engine. I simulated this with lined up sprue and cut out the hood feature. Finished it off with the identification numbers seen earlier in the episode and it was ready.

I had a hard time finding a transport that was in scale with the rest and finally picked a Solido die-cast truck. This was the hardest to do as the back was full of equipment and had a plastic one piece canvas top. I had to gut the back and cut away all of the supports. I scratch built new supports and draped a few ripped canvas pieces made of Modge Podge and toilet paper. Lastly I had to scratch an easy front winch. The one part I did deviate from was that the vehicle in the cartoon was a half track, but I felt this was really good as is and fit the scale perfectly.

The diorama was a simple board about 33" long and 14" deep. I nailed crochet templates on the board to give it some grip and laid out the foundation in plaster. After it dried, I penciled a diagram of where everything would go and started to build up the earth and grass. Materials used were many different lichen and moss, rocks, course sand, artificial leaves, and just about anything I could find that looked at home in a jungle environment. Some of the large leaf clusters were just silk leaves glued to jewelry wire and cut to size. I found it difficult to get good palm trees and had to make my own with wood, modge podge, wire, toilet paper, coconut husk, and modified silk leaves. I am really happy with the way they came out and much better than anything in the store as far as realism. The last touch was a hidden Zero wing in the back gound for the viewer to find.

Overall this was a large project for me and challenging, but very fun and rewarding. A few people familiar with the Transformers show have spotted it out immediately and that tells me that I at least accomplished my goal I was striving for. I hope you all enjoy it!

Image: The overall scene

Image: Inspiration

Image: Overhead

Image: Tank and Jeep

Image: Starscream

Image: Fighter

Image: Transport

Image: Starscream's inspiration

Image: Trees

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This page was last updated 18 November 2007. © 2007 Starship Modeler