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A SMITE from Star Blazers!

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Revision Log
7 March 2000converted to new format
1 January 1998added more illustrations
22 October 1997added instruction sheet
5 October 1997page first published

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I've just received a sample pack of the new starships in the Star Blazers! line from Musashi Enterprises, and, well, I've passed over the carriers and battleships and decided to start with - a SMITE ship.

To be specific, product #2006 "GAM SMITE ship."

about the size of a dime

This casting is about the size of a dime, being a flat disk-shaped ship belonging to the Gamilon Empire. It has a wide cockpit running like a ridge along the top, two thrusters poking out the back, and lots of credible-looking bumps and lines and panels.

My first confusion was identifying the contents of the blister pack. These ships come two to a pack, along with (in this instance) a clear plastic stand, a metal "X" crossbar, and a paper with painting directions and generic assembly tips. So I had two ships, one stand, and this crossbar - was I supposed to glue the crossbar to the top of the stand, and the two ships to the crossbar?

contents of the figure pack

So I asked Keith at Musashi, who replied:

Each package of smite ship should contain 1 stand 1 vertical pieces, 1 X piece for multiple basing (if desired), and 2 smite ships.

One X form is included in each small ship blister pack. You need only base one smite ship per stand. The smite ship is large enough to drill a hole in its bottom for mounting with the plastic stem, or you can use the X base.

Some people may want to mount 2 smite ships to a stand, but in most cases it is not necessary. Although we have played a number of massive games where a number of smite ships were employed - much to the distaste of the Earth players. We also use thin, but sturdy, wire to mount our ships to the plastic bases. This requires more work but looks better.

Due to product availability, we had to use the standard flying bases that are available from England for inclusion in the blister packs. Extra flying bases will have to be purchased for the mounting of large numbers of small ships in various demoninations for use in the game. This is of course up to the individual players, and how they decide to organize their fleets, and the scale of the game they decide on. I have to admit that the mass mounting of the smaller ships looks very impressive on the wargame table.

I decided I liked the idea of basing the ships individually, and so set out to drill a hole for the wire. The ships don't have attachment holes, but it was only a few moments work to drill a hole using a hand-held pin-vise and a small drill. I originally drilled a small hole suitable for a wire, but then decided that I liked the look of the ships on the clear plastic bases, so I scrounged up a spare stand and drilled a larger hole.

The ships were cast very cleanly, and needed no filing or other preparation (besides a quick wash in warm soapy water, to remove any molding residue).

the instruction sheet

How to paint them? The instructions suggested overall white, with light grey to highlight details, black for windows, and a touch of red for something (exhausts? gun ports?). My initial idea was to prime the ships black, then drybrush them white to bring out the detail - but I haven't been able to find flat black spray paint in the local stores (seems like everyone sells gloss paint these days).

Instead, I primed the ships white, sprayed them with Dullcote (a very flat overcoat) to make sure the surface would take a wash, then washed the ships with some black ink to bring out the detail. The wash was a failure, as I hadn't noticed that the ships had some complicated curves which resulted in the ink not flowing into the recesses as I had wanted. I ended up "painting" a second coat of ink into the spots which the wash had missed, with an end result of ships that were very, very dark.

Oh, well...

Faced with ships that looked like sooty dimes, I decided to heavily drybrush them with white paint. I used an inexpensive brush (since drybrushing is hard on brushes), and really worked those bristles into the nooks and crannies to give the ship a good drybrushing. The result was a bit of a surprise. Yes, the details sprang out, while the shadows remained in the lines and recesses. However, the drybrushing also brought out a rough texture on the figure itself - it seems to not have any smooth surfaces. The end result is rather hard to describe, kind of like a white ship that's been pitted by space soot, but I decided I liked it.

Next, I painted on the red accents. I thought I was painting engine exhausts, but upon inspecting the ship's game-form, I've concluded those must be the nozzles pertaining to the SMITE matter transporter (ah, the key technology which makes this ship almost unique!). The instructions also ask for red details on the front rim of the ship, but I didn't see anything matching this on the figure, and instead highlighted some similar spots on the forward part of the under-ship.

The hardest part for me was the cockpit. The instructions suggested black windows with a white "frame." First, I tried using ink to bring out the windows while leaving the frames white, but the ink was too hard to control and I had to touch up the rest of the model, and the ink dried too light.

Next, I tried painting the windows black, then drybrushing with white to bring out the frame - but I couldn't drybrush light enough to not get the windows as well!

My last attempt was to again paint the windows black, then drybrush with light grey to bring out the frame. Again, the grey wandered into the windows, but at least you get the right impression (from a distance) of dark and light on the canopy.

my paint job

I sealed everything with a coat of Dullcote, followed by a hand-brushed gloss on the canopy (for that "glass" look).

my SMITE from the bottom

Am I happy with the final paint job? Yes, no, maybe. I like the way it brings out the details in the figure, but if I had a chance to do it again, I'd probably try a basecoat of grey or even light blue with a white-drybrushing (but maybe that would lose the contrast that makes the detail stand out in my ships). And I'm not happy with the canopy job I did - I've seen the manufacturer's paint job, and feel like I should have been able to pick out the frame in white like he did!

the manufacturer's paint job

But you know, my ships look good enough for the tabletop, and that's good enough for me. Not every paint job has to be perfect!

my Smites performing a fly-by