I was given the opportunity to build the very first issue of this kit after it was cast. It is a garage kit produced by my friend Steve Carricato here in Colorado Springs. It is a sci-fi fantasy ship loosely based on a famous sci-fi movie which shall remain nameless. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Steve got the inspiration for the kit after seeing some less than stellar like items being offered for sale online. He thought he could do better, and thus far he has done well in producing them. As I stated initially, the kit I built was the very first production batch and I sent a list of changes to Steve that he has since implemented to provide for a better quality model
The kit is resin. Every bit and piece of it is resin. It looks like there are more parts than there really are as there is a lot of detail on the surfaces that busy things up a lot. The canopy feature details on the inside as well as the outside. Assembly took me all of a couple hours due to mold line clean up etc. I used two-part five-minute epoxy to attach the wings to the fuselage as I didnít want to put that much stress on butt joints using CA glue. There is a substantial amount of weight to this thing hence the five-minute epoxy. Future buyers/builders might even want to pin the wings in place for added strength
The canopy was initially going to be cast in clear resin, but problems with the resin has resulted in it being cast in cream colored resin and the windows being cut out from clear sheet and added separately.** Instructions are simply photos of the parts lay out, and where they go on the kit. It's pretty basic, but easy to follow. Steve is working on improving this aspect of the kit as well. I was able to build mine without the instructions if that is any indication of how easy it is.
assembly and painting
I started by removing the glass portions of the canopy so I could make and install my own glass with lexan sheet. I made templates using a 3x5 card to trace the window openings, and then cut them out. I taped these to the lexan and cut them out again. My templates were about as close as could be and what small gaps I did have were filled with Micro Krystal Kleer. The transition is virtually invisible. The windows were installed after final painting and weathering.
I assembled the engines next and set them aside to dry. I repeated this for the heavy cannons on the wings, and the smaller ones on the fuselage bottom. Each got painted by itself and installed at final assembly.
I pre painted most of this kit prior to assembly as there is a lot of surface detail that is hard to reach once assembled. The cockpit was the first item painted and I went with a nice dark German gray for this. Not quite RLM 66, but a close second if there was one. Gloss coating with Future prepared the office/cockpit for the onslaught of washes that were to follow. Once these had been laid in and had dried, I began picking out individual panels, knobs and such with Vallejo acrylics. A final dry brushing of Titanium White in oil brought out the last little bit of highlights. The cockpit is busy to say the least. The only items missing are a couple sets of shoulder restraints for the pilot and WISO. These are easy to source or scratch build. Iím just lazy and havenít gotten to it as yet!
Initial painting was a good solid primer coat of Tamiya Fine White followed by more coats of flat white from the rattle can. I decided to pick out the two upper panels in the salmon color to help add a little eye appeal to the overall white that was shaping up. Gloss coats followed this, as did further airbrush treatments in blacks and browns for blast marks, and space residue grime. I flat coated everything to protect what I had done thus far and to prepare the surfaces for the heavy chipping I had planned for this little beauty. The chipping was done using a small pointed brush and heavily thinned Vallejo flat black and white mixtures.
Installation of the engines and guns were the final step in completing this build. The engine were painted in a dark gray similar to the cockpit, and then over-sprayed with Model Master Metalizers and various shades of Alclad II. I over shot the ends of the ďcansĒ with Alclad clear blue to give them that heat stained look. I also sprayed this on some of the other engine parts. I decided to branch away from the traditional white under carriage legs and gear and opted to go with gloss black reminiscent of some Japanese aircraft of WWII. It isnít easy to see unless the kit is picked up, but it has a nice look to it. There is no worry in this being a tail sitter as there is ample weigh in the ass end to hold it down. The landing gear is strong enough to hold the weight of this solid resin kit. The builder has the option to build the Hopper in gear up mode or gear down.
There were no decals for my FH-MkII when I started, but I believe Steve is working on some at this point. Even without them, the little ship has a certain character to it. You could raid your spares box to find some if you just had to have some on it.
Post build update
Since my build up, Steve has re-engineered some parts for better detail in the casting process. He also re-did some of the molds for easier assembly. I spent just a couple of hours assembling mine and the rest of the time painting. I imagine with these improvements assembly time is just at or even under an hour. The detail is well captured and abundant on the entire kit.
Retail price for this kit is $49.99 and can be purchased directly from Steve via his email address @ firstname.lastname@example.org