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FS-80 Shooting Star Fighter

[Proudly Sponsored by BLAP! Models]

by Matt Jacobson

Scale: 1/72

The FS-80 “Shooting Star” is a small, one-man in-system fighter, with limited atmospheric capabilities. It is manufactured from high-strength, Foss-proprietary alloys that allow it to operate without heavier shielding or armor. Its armament is made up of two in-wing seven-barrel Gatling plasma weapons, and two MS-22 “Starletto” ship-killer missiles.

Its unusual shape is part of its camouflage; by building a ship out of basic, duplicated geometric shapes, an approaching vessel cannot be sure of the direction in which the fighter is pointed. Further, the ship’s main atmospheric control surfaces are placed on the bottom of the craft, to confuse enemy forces as to the orientation of the fighter craft relative in space to its quarry.

Read the complete backstory here.

So there I was, bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to finish my original “Starfighter” model in time for the deadline, when I woke up last Sunday- that’s January 16th, two days before the deadline- with a great idea for a starfighter. I could take a plastic Christmas-tree star and make a true “star fighter”- and do a (hopefully) impressive Foss/Elson style “paintjob” with some of the decals I’ve been collecting over the years. The more I thought about this as a potential entry, the more enthused I became.

Why is it star-shaped? Because it is easier to hide which direction the ship is pointing! Plus, the idea of submitting a star-shaped ship to a starfighter contest- a true “star fighter”, in every sense of the word- makes me chuckle.

Why are Chris Foss’ and Peter Elson’s ships always so visible/multicolored? Dazzle camouflage! (Which also made me consider why you’d need dazzle camo in space, which led to the creation and naming of the Foss System- which is named after Chris Foss. Extra points if you got the “joke” about Foss IV. And yes, this IS the kind of stuff I think of, during hours of PSR.)

Can I build a contest-worthy model in two days? That was going to be a toughie.

This ship started out as a Christmas Tree-topper Star ornament that I purchased a few years back. It took me an hour to find the ornament. (Luckily, the Christmas boxes hadn’t yet gone into storage.)

Separation of the two halves was easy- the glue only held it together in a few small spots. My trusty #11 blade made short work of it. This left me two star halves and a cool AC-powered changing light source that I’m sure I will find use for later.

There was a rough “glittery” finish that needed to be sanded down before anything else could be done. It took six hours (off and on), working with a Dremel, sandpaper, and files, to get a smooth finish on one piece. (My girlfriend told me, as I was Dremeling and coating myself in glitter, that I starting to look like Edward Cullen. I still need to figure out how to get rid of the glitter that now covers my workbench.)

This took so much time, I decided to only use ½ of the star. I glued the top half of the star to a sheet of plastic, then carefully trimmed around the edges. (I’ll have to bring the other half of the star to the Wonderfest Parts Dump.)

I made plating out of sign vinyl, and created minor detail greeblies from styrene stock and miscellaneous model parts from various kits. (The final model has bits from the MPC X-Wing and Slave 1, the AMT/Ertl Pod Racer, a Monogram Cylon Base Star, some Russian bomber of unknown type- thanks, Wonderfest parts dump!- and the Glencoe Explorer 1, along with a few well-chosen Kotobukiya detail parts.)

The engine/missile launcher underneath was made from sheet and tube styrene and putty, and comes from an abortive attempt to make a SSM logo ship, from a contest back in… 2003? 2002? I guess it pays to not throw stuff away- sometimes, at least.

A few rounds of PSR later, and she was ready for a coat of Rust-oleum Auto Primer. The first coat (Testors Aluminum Plate on the top; Testors Titanium on the bottom- Testors Gunmetal for the exhaust) went on at around 9 PM Sunday night- approximately 8 hours after I started.

The decals came from various sheets I’ve collected over the years. The cockpit “glass” is actually a 1997-vintage Cylon Raider “stripe”, after my first cockpit made from my formerly-trusty sheet of black decal material disintegrated coming off the paper. (I also discovered how many of my old decals were no longer good- I had plans for some specific decals, only to have them shatter as soon as they came off the paper.) I’m not even sure where some of these decals came from.

I made a simple base from an old MPC “Pilgrim Observer” base that I’ve had since 1978, some Aves, and a piece of brass rod. The final model depicts a FS-80 “Shooting Star” in orbit above one of the small asteroids in the Foss System.

I’m glad I was able to finish this, in time (barely!) to make the contest deadline. I’m also glad that I decided to participate- it’s more fun to compete than stand by. The other entries? Well, there’s always Wonderfest… or the next contest.

(And, by the way, this ship has EXCELLENT “vroom factor”/flight characteristics. I leave the engine sounds up to your imagination…)

Image: Actual start time!

Image: Separation of the two halves

Image: Flyby, showing underside

Image: Before and after

Image: Cockpit

Image: Top view without stand

Image: Underside

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This page was last updated 1 February 2011. © 2011 Starship Modeler