Fantastic Plastic Space Station V: Part Two

In my first post for this build, I described assembling the resin parts of the kit. As a little addendum to that process, I added some little rectangles of styrene sheet to the kit. These were to reproduce the appearance of structures that are readily visible in the film, but not included in the kit. You can see them in the screen-grab below—raised rectangles on the outer rim opposite the points where spokes join the inner rim. There are also similar plates halfway between spokes on the completed ring.

2001: A Space Odyssey reference 1
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As well as adding a bit of “realistic” detail, these plates handily conceal the joins between resin parts, and some of the damaged moulding detail associated with pour stubs.

Next, the photoetch. There’s a lot of photoetch detail—a couple of hundred steel parts, in fact. Fantastic Plastic helpfully provide multiple spares for some of the smaller pieces.

First of all, I applied the little ring of flanges that surround the hub end of each spoke. These come as sets of ten tiny triangles for each spoke, in several different shapes according to where they are positioned on the curved surface of the hub. Here’s one lying on a UK penny and a centimetre-ruled cutting, board, for scale:

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V photoetch part
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And here’s one half of the model with all the flanges in place:

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V spoke flanges
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Next, the open girder-work for the uncompleted half of the station. Here it is in the movie, painted a dull red-brown:

Space Station V from 2001 A Space OdysseyEach quadrant is different, so care is required to fit the right parts in the right order, in the right place. For each section, the cross-members must be threaded on to the central four longerons, following the diagrams provided in the kit:

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V assembling quadrant structure
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It’s also necessary to get the longerons the right way round—they’re indented with tiny locating notches for the cross-members. I found it impossible to get all the longeron notches precisely aligned, but they are useful for getting the cross-member spacing correct. With the cross-members shoved to the centre of the longerons temporarily, they can easily be sprung into position and glued in place on the resin parts. With the cross-members threaded back to and fixed in their correct positions, the outer and inner longerons can be added. Here’s the first quadrant assembled:

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V assembled quadrant structure
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There are problems with the fit between the longerons and the resin. Ideally a little filing is required to make a groove for each longeron, particularly when cross-members butt close against the resin parts, as above. Without this, the longerons can develop an awkward curve as they thread through the cross-member and then immediately on to the resin. (There’s an uncorrected example in the photo above.) I actually shortened some of the inner, partial-length longerons rather than performing what would have been fairly major surgery on the resin part.

I also had something of a problem just getting the longerons off the steel fret. They’re etched so close together that even my finest side-cutters wouldn’t enter the gap.

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V frame longerons
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I ended up clipping out an entire sector as a unit, and then using fine forceps to bend each part back and forward relative to its neighbour to break the attachment, while avoiding bending the parts themselves. It was time-consuming and delicate work.

But here’s the final effect:

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V all quadrants 1
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Fantastic Plastic Space Station V all quadrants 2
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(You can also see one of styrene rectangles, at the bottom of the top photo.)

Next, the “outrigger” detail that runs the length of the spokes. First I added the brass strips to replace the fragile and damaged resin spoke parts I discarded in Part One of this build log:

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V brass strips
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Then I had to deal with some more fine steel parts that were madly difficult to remove from their fret:

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V spoke detail fret
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These are deliberately provided slightly over-length, and needed a succession of trial fittings and clippings before they could be positioned on either side of each brass strip.

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V spoke detail
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There’s a little final tweaking of the steel outrigger positions still to be done, above. They’re also supposed to align with tiny paired knobs on the resin parts, but I’d honestly be in awe of anyone who actually managed to pull that off, given how much independent positioning goes on getting everything together up to this point.

Here’s the final effect:

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V spoke detail complete
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The last six steel parts to be added are a set of “radiator vanes” that need to be positioned at the join between the two station halves. I made myself a little cardboard jig to keep them level, and constructed a hexagon on the flat face of the resin part to help with positioning:

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V positioning vanes
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(Actually, after I’d done this, I detected a few tiny nubs on the resin that look like they’re supposed to help position the vanes.)

So, finally, a coat of grey primer. I decided to keep the two halves separate for painting—that’s going to be awkward enough without the two rims getting in each other’s way.

Fantastic Plastic Space Station V primer
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Next, painting and detailing.

3 thoughts on “Fantastic Plastic Space Station V: Part Two”

  1. Tremendous work. I can only imagine how tedious cutting out all those longerons was, but the results were clearly worth it.

    On the color of the unfinished section: the designers were clearly inspired by the red oxide primer used on steel I-beams, but I expect the real Space Station V would have been mostly aluminum. Of course the world of 2001 didn’t seem to have the upmass constraints that we still suffer from.

  2. Thanks.
    Yes, I’ve mixed up a shade of red-brown from Tamiya Red-Brown, White and Red. It’s at the brown end of the range of shades for red oxide primer, which is where the colour in the movie seems to sit–definitely more brown than red. And I’ve settled on a pale grey, rather than white, for the body of the station.
    I’ve seen a few builds of this kit that follow the Fantastic Plastic box art, and use a rather lurid red and white combination, and they just don’t look right to me.

    I’m not sure why you’d need primer on the I-beams in a vacuum. But then again, I don’t know why you’d build the rim while the station was rotating, or why (once you’d decided to do that) you’d let work on one section lag behind other sections, producing a lopsided mass distribution.

    It was a pretty thing, though, for all that.

  3. I’m ashamed to admit that it’s never occurred to me why it was unfinished. One amusing fanwank I ran across suggested it was due to budget cuts after construction had started.

    I can’t tell for sure, but the Bob McCall painting on the original 2001 one-sheet might show someone doing an EVA near the unfinished section, which would be quite a trick while it was spinning!

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