Modelling Andre Norton’s “baldie” starship

The “baldie” starship trapped in Arctic ice from Andre Norton’s The Time Traders. (Robin Rowland)
The “baldie starship” at an alien base from Andre Norton’s Galactic Derelict. (Robin Rowland)

Almost all the model starships on the market today come from either Star Wars or Star Trek, with a few from the Battlestar Galactica reboot. Some speciality hobby stores both brick and mortar and online do offer some “vintage” kits. Even on Shapeways, the online marketplace for 3-D printed models,  the offerings are almost all Star Trek or Star Wars.

Yes as you can see from this site, I do model Star Wars and I have some Star Trek models on my to-do list.   A few months ago I decided it was time that my favourite science fiction author as a kid, Andre Norton, received some modelling tributes.

I decided that my first Andre Norton project should be from the first Norton science fiction novel I read when I was 13, The Time Traders.   (which became a series of novels )

The Time Traders, first in the series,  was written in the fifties at the height of the cold war.  The basic premise  is that the Soviet Union finds an alien starship preserved in the Arctic ice cap and starts using that technology (at the time of the so-called, later proved to be non-existent “missile gap”) and the United States must counter the Soviets.

Both sides some how, it’s never explained,  develop time travel and in a time travel arms race send agents back in time to various ages when the aliens later dubbed the “Baldies” were active on Earth. The “Baldies are alien pale, white, hairless, alien humanoids.

Norton only described the starship as spherical.  And various cover artists had their own interpretations of the ship trapped in ice. Every cover is different,  unlike movies or television where the design is fixed, so that gave me a little flexibility.

 

Time Traders paperback cover.
Time Traders hardcover cover.

So I decided to start  with an N scale propane tank model from my  model railway days ( I may try other approaches to baldie ships in the future)

I then added a bridge similar to the first cover, using a manufacturers container for contact lens (which didn’t work out as well as I had hoped) and stand/main engine from a bottle top.

 Once the model was complete,  I took it out into the snow of my front yard.

Perhaps this is how a 1950s helicopter might have spotted the Baldie ship in the thinning Arctic Ice.
And this is what the helicopter crew might have seen as they go down for a closer look. (Robin Rowland)

Of course I couldn’t leave the model out in the snow. So I created a base using another cover, from the novel Galactic Derelict.

Landing on an alien base.
Another view of the starship

There are a couple of differences here.  In Galactic Derelict the spherical ship is a scout, capable of holding perhaps up to five humans/humanoids.

It is discovered in the American west during the Palaeolithic when there is still volcanism in the Rockies (at least in the novel) and during an attempt to bring it forward to twentieth century time, instead it sends the crew on a journey across the galaxy and back.  In the several thousand years the “Baldie” civilization has collapsed and one of the bases the Terrans visit is a refueling station that, luckily still operates.

So in this case the model remains the full size starship. not the scout. The landing zone is a container for frozen meat pies.  The “tower”  really should be further away. Once again I used two toothbrush containers glued together,  then add details from scrap.

To match the cover, I photographed the base in available light late on the afternoon of April 1.   Also there are images of the model in full light to show more details.

The Baldie ship at the refueling base (Robin Rowland)
The “tower” at the alien base. (Robin Rowland)
A closer shot of the “Baldie” ship after landing at the base (Robin Rowland)
The base in full light. (Robin Rowland)
The tower in full light (Robin Rowland)

Turning router packing into a ruined alien temple

Original router packaging and the resulting model photoshopped into a jungle setting. (Robin Rowland)

Just before Christmas, I purchased a new router. Opened the box and the router was packaged in papier-mâché, a more environmentally friendly to all that plastic.  I took one look at it and it reminded me  of all those photos of  jungle ruins.

Finely carved corridors from the ruins of the Buddhist temple of Angkor Ta Prohm in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It dates to the 12th and 13th century and was built by king Jayavarman VII who is considered to be one of the greatest rulers of the ancient Khmer Empire. Allie Caulfield/ Wikimedia Commons

 

Ruins on a hill behind the better excavated ruins at Palenque. Alastair Rae / Wikimedia Commons

So I imagined that once on an alien world (of course it could just as well be Earth) that once there was an impressive building, the Emerald Temple, that was for some reason lost to history abandoned and thus the jungle took over. But this temple was so well built that most of it has survived the ages.

So I put my several ongoing kitbashing ship model projects aside to create the temple.  It took about five hours work over three days.

Close up view of the packaging. It certainly looks as if it’s a web of vines . (Robin Rowland)

I am calling this the Emerald Temple.  There was once cladding or covering or paint that when the temple was new and active would have been a bright emerald green.  That has now decayed so I began with a very light spray of emerald green spray paint plus a little camouflage olive green spray paint.

The Emerald Temple begins to take shape. (Robin Rowland)
A closer view of the emerald paint on one of the towers (Robin Rowland)
Top view of the unpainted packing (Robin Rowland)

I began with the top of the temple, adding a mix of commercial autumn leaves ground cover with dried tea from old tea bags to create the old leaves and other forest detritus that has built up over the years.

Ground cover and tea leaves create the detritus that has built over the years and decades. (Robin Rowland)
Front view with the old leaves and other forest detritus. (Robin Rowland)

I then added several layers of different coloured ground cover and foam bushes.

Ground cover added to all sections of the Emerald Temple (Robin Rowland)
A closer view of one of the towers. (Robin Rowland)

Additional plant life were twigs from my garden and a tomato stem, dipped in dilute white glue and then with some ground cover added.

An even closer view of the tower. (Robin Rowland)

And here is the final product

The Emerald Temple model. (Robin Rowland)
A slightly different angle. All the final product photos were shot in direct sunlight through a window. (Robin Rowland)
Close shot of the tower with modelling complete. (Robin Rowland)

Finally I photoshopped the completed model into an old screen grab of the jungle in Thailand from a documentary I shot back in 1997,  worked so that the temple appears to be part of the older, lower resolution video. It’s up to the viewer to decide whether or not the temple is part of a lost civilization on Earth or on an alien world.

Emperor Palpatine and his guards

Emperor Palpatine and his Star Wars Command guards. (Robin Rowland)
Emperor Palpatine and his Star Wars Command guards. (Robin Rowland)

So here is my first project for miniatures and photography, Emperor Palpatine and his guards.

The miniatures are painted Star Wars Command 54mm/ 1/32 scale figures.

palpatine2

Technical photo details for first and second images. Sony Alpha 77, with Tamron 70 to 300 lens, tripod, ISO 1000, manual settings f25 at 13 seconds.

A wider view of Emperor Palpatine and his guards. (Robin Rowland)
A wider view of Emperor Palpatine and his guards. (Robin Rowland)

Sony Alpha 55,Sony 55 to 200 SAM lens, ISO 3200, program mode, popup flash fired, 160 at f10.

Now for the fun part.  George Lucas was inspired by the old movie serials from the 30s to 60s in creating Star Wars.

So here’s how my miniatures look using filters to emulate old movies.

Emperor and his guards in a vintage movie (Robin Rowland)
Emperor and his guards in a vintage movie (Robin Rowland)

The Silver Efex Pro filter captures the idea of the old black and white (or semi sepia movies) Sony Alpha 77, Sony 100mm prime macro,  ISO 1600, Aperatre priority f32 at 25 seconds (on tripod)

The Emperor and his guards in an old colour film. (Robin Rowland)
The Emperor and his guards in an old colour film. (Robin Rowland)

This vintage film image was created in Analog Efex Pro using an old film setting. Sony Alpha 55, ,Sony 55 to 200 SAM lens, ISO 3200, aperture priority, popup flash fired, 160 at f16.

 A little later style of black and white film. (Robin Rowland)
A little later style of black and white film. (Robin Rowland)

And if the director was still using black and white.  SilverEfex Pro, Alpha 77, Tamron 70 t0 300 in macro mode, manual settings, ISO 1600, 32 seconds at f8.

Another old film look at the Emperor and his guards. (Robin Rowland)
Another old film look at the Emperor and his guards. (Robin Rowland)

Finally, how I created the set:

The set for the Emperor Palpatine shoot (Robin Rowland)
The set for the Emperor Palpatine shoot (Robin Rowland)

So here’s the “set” for the Emperor Palpatine shoot.  The round base originally supported WalMart’s delicious chocolate fudge cake.  I had kept the base several months ago as I was hoarding possible scratch building material.  The base is set on a piece of black poster board.  The background is a cardboard box spray painted black.  The two wall panels are also from chocolate cake bought from my local supermarket.

Lighting: Three lights on most of the images.  An LED flashlight as you see to the right of the setup.  On top of the box was a small LED light (designed for use with mobile phones, pointed at the offwhite ceiling. The third LED was to the left and about two metres away pointing just to the left edge of the box.

Once I had finished the tripod time exposure shoot, I wanted to get this shot of the set so I used the Alpha 55 with just the popup flash  at -2 without changing the lighting set up otherwise.  I used the same settings when shooting wider shots above with the Alpha 55.