Revell-Monogram 1/32 Colonial Viper

KIT #: 85-6442
PRICE: $24.95 MSRP49
DECALS: Several options
NOTES: Newer kit which includes cockpit



“There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians or the Toltecs or the Mayans. Some believe there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive, somewhere beyond the heavens.”

-opening narration by Patrick MacNee (also voice of Imperious Leader)


The original Battlestar Galactica was part of a wave of Science Fiction (much of it bad) that came from the explosive popularity of 1977’s Star Wars.  It was conceived as a SF retelling of the Mormon trek to Utah (influenced by the Mormon producer, Glen A. Larson) with strong Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Jewish overtones.  Like the later miniseries V, it was only supposed to be a mini series not a complete TV series, but no one can accuse network/entertainment execs of being smart and/or logical so it was rushed into production without any plan of what to do with it.


The series started off with a bang and then slowly died as the writers cobbled together increasingly awful plots based on westerns, war movies and disaster(!) films while battling ABC’s continuing demands to cut costs on what was then the most expensive TV show in history which explains why so many of the “dogfight” sequences were recycled from the pilot and why fewer and fewer Cylons were encountered.  The less said about the later Galactica 80 series, the better.


Despite this, the show was a cult hit of sorts, but not as big as other SF like Star Trek and it’s rival, Star Wars.  It would eventually reborn to greater acclaim (and disappointment) in SciFi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica 2004 Reboot.


One of the main highlights of the 1978/1979 TV show was Battlestar Galactica’s main offensive/defensive weapon, the Colonial Viper.  These unique single seated, tri engined fighters were armed with a pair of laser cannons.  Agile and fast, these Vipers provided the primary protection and strike force for the ragtag fleet that carried the survivors of the 12 Colonies in a search for a planet called Earth.  They flew rings around the wobbly eyed and inept Cylons who were led by the equal parts malevolent, cowardly and incompetent human traitor, Baltar.


On a personal note, I was a fan of the series growing up.  What 8 year old boy doesn’t like watching humans fight robots and blowing stuff up?  I admit that I also bought the DVD set as an adult and realized why my dad used to laugh when he watched the show with me.  It’s amazing what you miss as a kid including why a lot of things didn’t really make sense in Battlestar Galactica like logistics and tactics.  It took me a while to learn as a boy that “I’ll take the one on the left and you take the one on the right” isn’t really a tactic.  Oh well.




The preview of the new kit is here.




It is a fairly simple kit, but it does require a bit of work.  I began with the engine section of the kit.  It took a lot of careful work to glue everything together as the parts were slightly warped.  I had to cut pieces of 40 thou thick plastic card and glue them with CA glue in the interior to hold various pieces in place. 


Once that was done,  I had to glue the tail parts and wings.  There were a few seams that needed to be fixed thanks to the poor fit of the parts.  CA glue was used to fill them in and then it was sanded down using 400 grit sandpaper and then polished with increasing grades of micromesh cloths.


The cockpit was then painted Tamiya XF-19 Sky Gray.  Once it was dry, the interior details were hand painted with a 0 brush and the display decal was added.  I did not add the pilot at the time because the pilot figure needed some work.  I had inadvertently broken the support for the cockpit when I was dry fitting the parts so I added a 3/8” box cut from some styrene 3/8” box conduit to the bottom of the fuselage as support.  I then glued the cockpit into one half of the fuselage before gluing the nose fuselage together.  The nose part was added at the same time.


The Viper’s forward section does not have the best fit and there are plenty of gaps.  I filled them with CA glue, let it air dry for about 30 minutes and then sanded them down.  I tried to be careful with the detail, but it didn’t really matter as most of it was sanded away.  One thing to watch out for is the poor fit of the nose piece.  I discovered that it is also a bit over sized in relation to the rest of the fuselage so I had to add an extra bead of CA glue on the underside of the fuselage to flatten the lip.


I did not attach the engine section to the fuselage at the time to make it easier to paint.





The engine section, tail and fuselage were masked and the forward edges of both the engine section and fuselage were spray painted TS-30 Old Silver.  I let that dry for a couple of days before I sprayed on red steel on the area on the indented section between the intakes as well as the intakes  The rest of the model was preshaded with flat black.  Next I sprayed on two light coats of Gunze Sanyo FS36440 Light Gull Grey for a dirty look.  I let this cure for a couple of days.


I wanted a well worn chipped paint look to my Viper, but I knew I couldn’t get that if I used the kit decals for markings so I opted to paint the markings on.  It took a lot of careful measuring using drafting dividers to get everything lined up.  I then took tape and carefully masked off each marking.  I airbrushed the exposed areas with Model Master Acryl International Orange.  I let the paint dry for about 20 minutes before I took 3M painters tape to it.  I lifted off a little bit here and there with the tape to get the chipped worn looking I was looking for.


I repeated the same process with the fuselage except I also had to paint the lip of the nose with XF-24 Dark Grey.


The canopy was masked, painted with XF-19 Sky Gray for the interior color and Lt Gull Grey for the exterior.  I then sprayed a very fine mist of Talon Acrylic Aluminum to give it a worn look.


The laser cannons were painted Gunmetal while the engine exhausts were painted in combination of metallic grey, gun metal and burnt iron.



I opted not to use a gloss coat (the Light Gull Gray I used was semi gloss) as I used the Lt Sheba markings, the Silver Spar decals on the fuselage and the Galactica Badges.  The decals reacted well with MicroSet solution.  The reason why I did this was because Lt Sheba flew with the Pegasus’ Silver Spar Squadron tell she and her squadron ended up on the Galactica in the aftermath of the “Lost Warrior” 2 part episode.  I also did this because I had a boyhood crush on the actress who played Lt. Sheba, Anne Lockhart.




I glued the fuselage to the engine section, but I also had to add to 20 thou shims to improve the strength of the join.


The pilot was hand painted to represent the old school Colonial Warrior.  The actual figure is male, but I did not modify the figure to look more feminine as you can’t really tell with the cockpit closed.  I also didn’t have the patience or skills to sculpt breasts and redo the jacket--if pressed I’ll just say that a male pilot was assigned to fly Lt Sheba’s Viper that day.


The clear engine inserts were added to the engine exhausts and glue in place with Tamiya thin cement.  The whole assembly was added to the model and glued in place.


Finally, the “rudder” and guns were glued on using CA glue.  Be careful as the mating surfaces aren’t the best.


I made the stand and stuck the model on it as the final act of construction.


I had fun building this blast from the past.  All it took was a little bit of extra effort to make a model I am happy with.  It is not a Tamiya/Hasegawa slammer, but I highly recommend it to those who are interested in the subject or want to do a quick weekend project.


Dan Lee


January 2009

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