By Pat Amaral - images & text © 2005
^ The fuselage and command pod are one big, heavy chunk of resin.
The Sith Infiltrator was bad guy, Darth Maulís ride of choice when he set out to do his evil best in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. According to the Star Wars Databank, the ship is a Star Courier type craft manufactured by Republic Sienar Systems. It is 26.5 meters long and its Sith Lord owner has added several nasty weapons systems and a cloak generator (none of which were used in the movie - too bad).
Until recently, the only kit of the Infiltrator has been an AMT/ERTL issued pre-painted mini ďsnapĒ kit that was about 3Ē in length (approximately 1/350 scale). There was also a model rocket produced by Estes. Now, Patrick Tomlinson (pattern maker) and Controlled Energy Designs (casting) have developed a resin kit of the Infiltrator using the Estes rocket as starting point. I picked up one of these new kits at WonderFest 2005 and that is the subject of this article.
What You Get
The kit comes in a large-ish cardboard box with a photo of the completed model on the top. Upon opening the box I was concerned to find the only packing materials were a small sheet of bubble wrap and a small handful of packing peanuts. I was concerned because the bulk of the model is approximately 18 ounces of solid resin and the remaining kit parts were together in a single zip-lock baggie. That monster piece of resin has a lot of room to rattle around and smash the other pieces to resin dust. Apparently, my concerns were unfounded though because once I inspected all of the parts, I discovered than none appeared to be damaged.
All of the parts are crisply cast in a pale blue resin except for one piece, which came in dark blue (from a different batch I would assume). The urethane resin used has an almost styrene consistency; not at all brittle. My sample is bubble free with the exception of two small but prominent voids on the main body, which should be easily filled. The main body also sports a few minor blemishes but they'll be hidden once assembly is complete.
There is a fairly prominent mold parting line that runs all the way around the main body piece. This will need quite a bit of cleanup, as will the edges of just about all the parts. This of course isnít out of the ordinary for a resin kit of this size. The kit has a lot of scribed panel lines, which will also need some sanding and cleaning out, especially on the inside of the four wing pieces as well as the rear of the sphere.
The biggest flaw in my sample is an odd, orange-peel-like ďtextureĒ which Iíve never seen before. This ďtextureĒ covers the entire surface of the main body piece. Iím assuming itís not supposed to be there as none of the other pieces exhibit this feature. Iím not yet sure how I'll try to eradicate the problem. It would require some rigorous sanding which would likely cause the details and panel lines to suffer. Iíve thought of trying one of the special primers like Mr. Surfacer but Iím not convinced how effective that would be.
Iíve written a lot of negative things so far about this model kit but I want to be clear that I think itís a very nice kit overall. As I said before, the parts are crisply cast and after cleanup, the kit should assemble easily. I was told by the kitís manufacturer that the landing gear will not support the model on itís own. This isnít surprising as the main piece weighs in at a beefy 14 ounces. The instructions allude to this and suggest that part of the landing gear should be replaced with brass rod, which will rectify the problem. Even though the landing gear looks good, I think Iíll build mine as an in-flight display because I like the looks of the ship with the wings fully deployed.
The instructions are pretty straightforward. There are five photocopied pages displaying photos of the different assembly steps. Each photo is accompanied by well-written descriptions of what needs to happen at each step in the process. As with any kit, I highly recommend fully studying the instructions and even rehearse each step a time or two before actual assembly takes place. I noticed a couple spots that can be easily messed up if youíre not paying attention. Good images of the Infiltrator are hard to come by so not having a painting guide in the kit can pose a challenge. The best images of the models used in the film (both CG and physical models were used) that Iíve been able to find were on the Star Wars Episode I Insiderís Guide CD-ROM. A quick Froogle.com search turned up a couple deals so this Disc is still out there.
Iím happy the Infiltrator is available. Is it a prefect kit? Probably not but itís not bad. There are a few challenges to overcome in cleaning the kit up and getting it ready for assembly and paint. Thatís not new for seasoned builders of resin kits. As for price? This is the most Iíve ever spent on one kit but Iíve always wanted a good-sized Infiltrator. I knew I would never scratchbuild one so I think this kit, my sampleís flaws not withstanding, is worth it.
Highly recommended for anyone who has some experience building resin kits.
Many thanks to Pat's wallet for providing the review samples. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!
This page copyright © 2005 Starship Modeler. First posted on 6 September 2005.