Revell Colonial Viper Build-up

Joseph Osborn

New Member
May 6, 2009
Hello, Nerd-herders :)

This is my first post on the forum but I've been following Scott's adventure since just about the beginning. Here's a little background on me: I've been model building off and on since I was about 5, which was about 36 years ago. For the past ten years I have been focusing almost exclusively on static scale helicopter modeling, and I operate an aftermarket resin and decal operation called "Fireball Modelworks" that has allowed me to pursue the hobby to a level I only dreamed about when I was younger. Okay, enough of me-- on to this model project. I have a best friend since elementary school who is impossibly hard to buy gifts for, so I just build him models. Over the years, I have chosen Christmas as the time to present him a new model, but this past year I had nothing made for him. I had intended to make him a Colonial Viper from the original Battlestar Galactica series, but other obligations ate up my time. So, after planning this build for over six months, I have finally started. And as a nod to Scott, I will post my build progress as a way to keep me moving on the model.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this kit, it was originally released by Monogram in 1978 and has been re-released only a couple of time since. The newest release, under the Revell brand, is also a re-tool: it adds a new interior cockpit and pilot figure, a clear canopy, and revised engine parts. It is approximately 1/32 scale, and builds into a nice-sized display piece.

Here's one of the early releases I made last year as a one-week stress-relief build:

The kit makes a really sweet model right out of the box, but I am going to add/remove/change aspects of the kit to make it a little more faithful to the original studio miniature and to give it some individuality. I bought this kit at Hobby Lobby last year when it was released.

The first change I made was to remove some excess plastic around the base of the intake scoops:

This model will be lit, so I adapted the display stand hole in the bottom to fit a nice beefy two-conductor jack from Radio Shack:

The male portion of the jack will be in the top of the new display stand, so the model can be removed from the stand with ease.

The engine lighting has been a fun (heh heh) project to tackle. I am using three super-bright LED's with flicker circuits to replicate the engine effect. The flicker circuits were harvested from LED tealight candles. The kit's engine housing is not very friendly to lighting, so I had to come up with a way to seal the individual LED's from each other and direct their output. I used 3/4" PVC pipe to make light guides. The pipe segments were machined to fit on my Taig lathe (sorry, Scott-- a proper lathe is the only way to fly), and I also cut LED holders and diffuser disks from some scap polycarbonate:



When the LED's are lit up, they glow brightly against the diffusers:

I still have to establish the best position from the end of the pipe for the diffusers.

The cockpit will be lit with fiber optics and probably one dim LED behind the main display screen. The kit's pilot figure is disappointing to me-- I would have liked to have seen a better sculpt, if only to have better details to rob for my replacement figure. This Viper will have a female pilot, and I have made a rough figure from 1/32 Preiser Eve parts, Verlinden 1/35 hands, and the kit figure's helmet:

I am really no good at sculpting, so adding the clothes to this figure will undoubtedly lead to much moaning and gnashing of teeth. The pose will have her head looking to the left, with her left hand held in the air in a "thumb's up" gesture and the right hand holding the control stick. The helmet looks a little big, but I went back and watched the old episodes with the female pilots and some of them looked like they were wearing a toilet bowl on their head:

This is a "budget build" which means that I'm basically limiting myself to the items I have on-hand to make the model. Thanks for indulging me, and I'll update the progress when new things happen ;D

Nice work. Too bad Revell didn't bring out TNS Vipers. That I would buy in bulk!!
Keep it coming!
Brilliant, I will be following this build for sure.

Your previous version looks stunning too.

Chas ;)
nimrod77 said:
Nice work. Too bad Revell didn't bring out TNS Vipers. That I would buy in bulk!!
Keep it coming!

Have you heard the news? Moebius is releasing a styrene TNS MkII Viper in December of this year! In 1/32-1/35 scale to match the size of the TOS Viper, to boot! I had originally planned to paint this Viper in a TNS scheme and make a TNS pilot figure, but since the news of the new model came out, I am going old-school on this build. Supposedly there will be other TNS kits after the MkII-- I can't wait!

I haven't made enough progress to warrant any new pictures, but I've started clothing the pilot with Aves-- so far so good :)

Thanks for the positive comments, fellows!

Oh really? A TNS Styrene Viper? That sounds really cool. I'd buy that as well.
The lighting is sweet. Your pilot looks good so far, just dive in and see what happens.
Shark said:
The lighting is sweet. Your pilot looks good so far, just dive in and see what happens.

Diving in, Mr Shark!

I worked on the pilot last night and got her boots, tunic, and belts started. Also made the control stick handle, posed the "thumbs up" gesture, and made one jacket sleeve.


Still have to fix the left arm in place and make the jacket. I don't think any of the boot details will be visible in the cockpit so I'll probably leave them as they are now. There are a lot of little buckles and bits that I'll add with styrene chips and blobs of Aves. Not sure if I'll bother making a gun & holster.

Thanks for looking,
I was a fan of the original but never could capture any of the new episodes.
I usually do not have good luck on SciFi stuff. I loved Firefly but we all know how that went.
And George promised 9 Star Wars movies but he seems to be going back on that.
And if I thought of Jar-Jar Binks I would reconsider too!.

What other lighting do you plane Joseph? Full interior? Lights in the helmet? Looking forward to more.
Wow that pilot looks great. What a difference a bit of aves can make. I also like how you positioned the pilot's limbs. I have a spare tank driver and wondered, if I could mod him to be my banshee sci-fi pilot. ???
See there, she looks awesome. Nice work on the creases, just the right amount. And the jacket looks good, not to bulky or anything.
Looks like you've got the hang of the sculpting lark. Great work.

That helmet does look sooo ridiculous though.  ;D ;)
Here's the little bits I added to the "latches" at the back edge of the intakes:

They will be sanded down to fit the shape of the kit's latch detail.

The sculpting work on the pilot is done (pretty much done, anyway-- there may be some touchups):


I'll probably add the kit's kneeboard piece when I paint her. Her head is not fixed in place for now, just pinned. I have a wild idea about casting her head/helmet in clear resin and planting a tiny LED in there to light the helmet. I experimented with using fiber optic strands to light the helmet when I first got the kit:

I wasn't too impressed with the result, so I shelved that idea. If I can block the LED's light from everywhere but the thin light bars on the front of the helmet, then it might work. I'll test the concept with a clear casting of the regular head before I make a mold of this female head.

I also started the rescribing process today. I'm using the existing raised lines as guides for the recessed lines, then I chisel away the raised lines. I need to be working on the interior-- it has to be put in place before I can close up the main fuselage.

This is the guts of the LED tealight that I'm using to make the main engines flicker:

I'll use three of these little cheap tealights. I think I paid 50 cents apiece for them. I'll remove the amber LED from the little circuit board and replace it with a bright white LED. I haven't decided on a display base for this build yet, nor have I decided whether to use batteries or an AC adapter to power it. I'm leaning toward batteries just to keep it portable.

Oh man she looks like something you would have to buy. You should cast the whole thing! And you really need to light the helmet like that, otherwise I will never be able to sleep again knowing what could have been.
Oh my! :eek: What a beautiful jacket you sculpted for her. It looks really amazing and I am wondering, how you did that. I mean... it's so tiny, how do you add all those details to the jacket? Looks very great and a lit helmet would be... just wow... :eek:
Joseph, I take my hat off to you!
Superb mate, love the lit up helmet. :eek:
What do you use to sculpt with?

WOW!! Outstanding work!! Right now iam working on a Revell Viper kit but iam making it into the Scarlet Viper with a conversion kit i got from SSM.

Latest posts