They say you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Well, that’s fine with me, because I don’t have a pig and I don’t need a purse. However, if there’s one thing I do like to try and do, it’s make the old new again. I’m a big fan of “work with what you’ve got”, especially when it comes to modelling. I find a perverse joy in trying to make the oldest, most obscure kits look halfway presentable in the modern age. I’m not saying I’m going to be cranking out masterpieces, but I do so love the challenge of trying to make a good “two footer” out of a barely adequate (or worse) model.
Thank goodness the past understands my fetish! It seems that history is my biggest pusher when it comes to my particular addiction. All it takes is a look at some old model boxes to get the engine revving, most times. “Why not build nicer, newer kits?” my friends and family ask. Well, I do have a lot of those. However, I worry about messing them up. How can I mess up something that’s barely even acceptable? With no pressure to not ruin a kit, I generally do better and have a better time building!
So, with the mantra of “Build old, build fun” in my head, I deked over to the stash and dug out my Farpro C6N1 Saiun. If you’re curious about the details of this very aged dog, feel free to check out the Out of Box Review.
Let’s set the record straight right now. This Saiun is a very, very simple kit. Normally, a plane build starts with the cockpit, but that doesn’t apply here. Why? Because there IS no cockpit. There are only some pegs upon which the most unfortunate pilot-looking blobs of brittle plastic are meant to be glued. I’ve seen these fellows described as constipated, but even that seems too gentle. These sad, vaguely humaniform lumps are not worth the effort to make presentable, so I decided just to toss them aside. I’d play Taps for them, but I don’t know if they have ears…
Seeing as there was no sign of anything in the cockpit, I decided to do a “tinplate” interior. For those who remember the tinplate toys of the ‘50s and ‘60s, you know that interiors were rarely “full depth”. They were shallow, but painted to look like they were full interiors. I decided to put a “floor” some of the way up the inside of the cockpit. Later, I’ll put in headrests and seatbelts on the seat backs. I was able to cut an appropriate rectangle of sheet styrene and glue it onto the lower set of “seat” pegs. I trimmed off the uppers. With this “floor” in place, I then sealed up the fuselage.
After getting the fuselage together, I glued a piece of thin sheet styrene over the gaping hole in the bottom of the fuselage. This helps to put a “roof” on the completely undetailed landing gear bay. It may seem like a small thing, but it makes a big difference.
Run Your Lines!
Like many kits of its day, the Farpro Saiun incorporates moving “action features”. This includes retracting landing gear and folding wings. I can see how this would be cool to a young modeller. As a kid, I loved the old folding wings on the 1/48 Devastator! Add folding wheels and the kit’s almost a toy!
I must say, the wing fold is rather ingenious. It involves a hinge that slides and then bends upwards. The “sleeve” that holds the hinge pins also slides into the outer wing to give stability when the wing is down. However, it looks ridiculous when the wing is up. The retractable gear is a pointless gimmick because the small doors near the centerline don’t retract. Oh, Peter; weak. (Imagine Cartman’s voice there…) My first job was to neuter the gear, by chopping off a few of the pins inside the wing and sanding the tops of the gear legs flat. This will provide a better mating surface for when the gear are installed, and allow them to be slid in after all the painting is done. As for the wings, I want the plane to be displayed with wings down, so there’s no problem just chopping off the hinge pins.
The real work on this kit is the rescribing that has to be done. I am not one to normally leave raised panel lines intact, unless they should actually stay raised or are very fine. Even then, you could say I’m on an “etchline” diet. When I see lines, I etch them! The panel lines and rivets on the plastic are not subtle or fine in any way, shape or form. They have all the subtlety of a drunken cat cavorting about a piano seller’s showroom. Thus, they have to be completely removed.
Before doing this, I used the existing lines, and some Dymo tape, to rescribe all the surface lines on the model. This was tedious, time consuming work. There were many inevitable slip ups, and a lot of CA was used to fill in the resulting scars on the plane’s surface. I rescribed each half of the fuselage separately, while they were apart; only the lines running across the centerline seam were put in after the fuselage was glued.
Once all raised detail was transferred to scribed lines, the entire surface of the plane was wet sanded with 220 grit wet/dry sandpaper. It took several grinding sessions and considerable rescribing to make sure that everything was where it should be, but the plastic was surprisingly easy to sand; I thought it would be a lot more brittle than it was, especially given its age. Of course, with this kind of heavy sanding, any raised detail will be destroyed. Sadly, this included a few raised squares on the fuselage sides, the cowling latches and the exhaust pipes. However, I decided that these sacrifices were worth it.
Rescribing and making an interior is one thing, but getting this pig together is going to be something else. I smell burning sandpaper in the near future! Be here next time as I:
1.) Ask myself “Why am I doing this?” only to answer with “Because it’s there!” and
2.) try to assemble this thing into something vaguely airplane-shaped.
Sounds fun, right? Just remember, I’m doing this so YOU don’t have to! Of course, if you want to, you’re always welcome to join the club!