The hunt for the Millennium Falcon – the diorama

Once again the Millennium Falcon is on the run. Once again in this non-canon, non-legend Star Wars Micromachines diorama, the Falcon is trying to hide out in a crater on an unnamed, uncharted minor planet at the edge of that galaxy far far away, perhaps in the mysterious “Unknown Regions.”

The Millennium Falcon hides at the edge of the galaxy. (Robin Rowland)
The Millennium Falcon hides in a small crater on a minor planet in the middle of galactic nowhere. (Robin Rowland)

Unfortunately for the Millennium Falcon crew and passengers, a bounty hunter comes up over the planetary horizon.

A Slave 1 class scout vessel comes over the horizon of the minor planet right over the Millennium Falcon. (Robin Rowland)

 

The Slave 1 class scout hides in another crater, while waiting for the Super Star Destroyer to arrive so the bounty hunter can collect a reward.. (Robin Rowland)
The Super Star Destroyer appears in orbit over that minor planet where the Millennium Falcon is in that crater. (Robin Rowland)

So what happens next? I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Creating the dioramas and photographs

All the models are Hasbro Star Wars Micromachines that were part of a Hasbro Star Wars Micromachines Epic Battles 48 piece set that fortunately was on sale at half price in my local supermarket.

Rebelscale.com lists the MicroMachines Millennium Falcon at 1/682 scale, the Slave 1 at 1/551 scale  and what Rebelscale calls the Imperial Star Destroyer (if it is the same as the Super Star Destroyer) at 1/23529 scale.

The problem with the Millenium Falcon MicoMachine is that the detailing is way out of scale, especially compared to some of the other models. Also the shiny “vinyl plastic” (according to Rebelscale) didn’t really work for the much loved but by now old and beat up Millennium Falcon.  The model was first painted with Krylon white primer,  then  lightly sprayed with Krylon Ivory Satin.  I added detailing using sharpie style art ink pens. I then sprayed with Krylon Matt finish.  Some of colours of those inks run when sprayed with the matt finish (especially reds).  After the matt finish had dried, details were touched up with the pens.

I left both the Slave 1 and the Super Star Destroyer as is.

The base is the Lunarscape vacu-form crater mold from  Amera Plastic Mouldings  from Low Prudhoe, Northumberland, in the UK.

The sheet of plastic was first covered with Krylon white primer.  Then I brush painted a thin grey wash with ordinary (not modeling) arcylic artists’ paint.   I then sprayed the surface with Krylon Fusion for Plastic white paint and Krylon Make it Stone textured grey paint, two handed, at the same time.   Finally I finished off with a quick pass of the Krylon Ivory Satin to give the surface some variety.  Serendipitously by that time the Ivory Satin can was almost empty and the spluttering spray left lumps of paint which became the surface rocks.

The spray painted Amera Lunarscape with the Micromachines Millennium Falcon (Robin Rowland)

My work table is grey and some what dirty as you can see.  I pinned a black cloth on the wall in preparation for photography. The light for this image was daylight through a window to the left.

Setting up the shot of the Millennium Falcon and the Super Star Destroyer (Robin Rowland)

To take the photograph of the Millenium Falcon and the Super Star Destroyer the Star Destroyer model was on a platform (actually a pile of books) also covered in black cloth.  The main lighting for the shoot was an LED video light high on an extended light stand at the door to my workroom. For this shot the overhead light was also on.

All closeup images were taken with a Sony Alpha 77 and a Sony 100mm prime macro lens.

I wanted imaginative backgrounds, like the covers of 50s-70s science fiction paperbacks, so I choose public domain shots from NASA.

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 (NASA Hubble)

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 was photographed on June 13 and July 8, 2009, as part of the initial testing and calibration of Hubble’s ACS. The galaxy lies 60 million light-years away in the north circumpolar constellation Ursa Major.

The NGC 4536 galaxy, captured here in beautiful detail by the Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Located roughly 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin), it is a hub of extreme star formation. Released April 14, 2017  ESA/Hubble & NASA

HH 901 and HH 902 in the Carina Nebula Star-forming Pillars and Herbig-Haro Objects with Jets  Taken in 2010 by the Hubble the region is two light years across and 7,500 light-years away from Earth. ESA/NASA

Photoshop

For both the Slave 1 and the Super Star Destroyer,  the NASA image was added in a new layer, then the eraser tool was used to reveal the spacecraft which were lighted the same way as the Millennium Falcon on the surface.

The “line” between the Lunarscape craters and the work table was blended using a combination the blur tool, the clone tool and the healing brush tool.

 

“Do or do not. There is no try” – the diorama

Yoda and Luke Skywalker on Dagobah after Yoda lifts the X-Wing from the swamp, (Robin Rowland)

For my second diorama (the first was the Emperor Palpatine and his guards) I tackled two scenes, from different perspectives from The Empire Strikes Back.

Photographed from one side, young Luke has arrived at the swamp world of Dagobah and has met Yoda.

Welcome to Dogabah, young Luke. (Robin Rowland)

Shot from the reverse angle and using forced perspective, the frustrated Luke Skywalker has just watched Yoda use The Force to raise his sunken X-wing fighter from the waters of the Dagobah swamp.

Both Luke and Yoda are Star Wars Command figures, painted in the appropriate colours. The Luke figure, unfortunately, is one of the poorest in the Star Wars Command line, compared to other personalities and even ordinary stormtroopers.

The snake (the creature that ate and threw up R2 D2) is from a $2 packet I bought at a dollar store. The flying creature was a lucky addition to the background shot I chose.

Here is the concept art of the scene from the official Star Wars site

How I did created the diorama

I started with the X-Wing which I painted in the standard colour scheme. The tiny R2 unit on the model was removed since on Dagobah, R2-D2 was with Luke. Military modellers often dip figures in Miniwax wood stain to bring out details. Usually I use a light stain, Minimax Fruitwood. This time I used the darker Walnut stain and rather than cleaning most of the stain, I let it drip into the a small aluminum pan.

Yoda also was dipped but he was wiped clean.

For the X-Wing I then added deadfall Witch’s Hair lichen (Alectoria sarmentosa) which is common in northern British Columbia where I live.

I then built the diorama using standard materials, with one exception. The styrofoam base was small so instead of commercial model water, I used several layers of standard food cling wrap (which actually comes with a slight blue tint in a private brand version) to make the snake/monster emerge from the water. I painted the layers of cling wrap with a light brown wash.

Here’s how the diorama  looks.

To photograph from different angles I then chose photos that would work as backgrounds.

Did I visit Dagobah? I wish.

The background images were photographed during a canoe trip in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refugee in south Georgia, ten years ago in April 2006.  The photographs were printed on Epson matt paper so there would be no extraneous reflections

Background image for Welcome to Dagobah
Background image for Do or do not, There is no try.

Finally here is the X wing on the diorama  showing the aft end of the star fighter.

Close up images shot with a Sony A77 and Sony 100 mm macro lens.  Others shot with a Sony 6000.

An Imperial AT-AT on patrol in swamp

An AT-AT on patrol in swamp, planet unknown. (Robin Rowland)

Star Wars Command AT-AT photographer in the woods near my house. Now that it’s spring will be able to do more outdoor photography where appropriate (the small approx 54mm Star Wars Command figures don’t always blend into a real world setting as easily as the larger 3.5, 6 and 12 inch figures).

Shot with Sony A700 and Tamron 70 to 300 on macro mode.

Why did I enlist in the snow troopers?

Why did I join the snow troopers? Snow trooper patrols in cold rain after a heavy snowfall.

A Star Wars Command snowtrooper figure, painted, photographed in rain after a heavy snowfall, Sony Alpha 700 Tamron 70 to 300 on macro mode.

In memory of Princess Leia

Star Wars Unleashed “vintage” (2007) figure of Princess Leia from what is now called Star Wars III A New Hope, released in 1977 and played by the late Carrie Fisher.


The Star Wars Unleashed Battle Packs were released by Hasbro between 2006 and 2008 and were roughly within the range of 54mm classic toy soldier figures (or 1/32 scale).
Unfortunately for modellers and war gamers when Hasbro manufacturers the various kinds of smaller Star Wars figures they are not always consistent to those scales, some larger, some smaller. The Star Wars Command figures that I feature on this blog, are supposedly in the 54mm range but are usually about 50mm, to small to mix and match.

The Star Wars Unleashed Battle Pack figures, of course, came out long before the movie Star Wars The Force Unleashed, which has its own set of figures in other scales.

Taken with Sony Alpha 700 with Tamron 70 to 300 on macro mode.

Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27. 2016 in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack.
(The Leia figure I had ordered had not arrived at the time of her death)

A lone Imperial AT-AT on dawn patrol

As the sun comes up this lone Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) sets out on patrol on icy world. Although this Imperial combat walker is 22.5 metre high, carries a crew of four and up to 40 snowtroopers as passengers, it looks insignificant against the landscape. (Robin Rowland)

The journey is uphill into the mountains. (Robin Rowland)

Through a mountain pass. (Robin Rowland)

The Imperial Walker All Terrain Armored Transport, a symbol of the might of the galactic empire.

An attacking AT-AT coming out of the blinding early morning sun would strike fear into any group of rebels. (Robin Rowland)

The patrol continues. (Robin Rowland)

Not all the walkers return safely from their mission. The crew and passengers of our AT-AT have to pass one that didn’t make it (Robin Rowland)

A rebel snowspeeder in its own dawn patrol spots the AT-AT so their troops are warned. (Robin Rowland)

The AT-AT reaches the limit of its assigned patrol and turns and heads back to home base. (Robin Rowland)

Details

Hasbro Star Wars Command AT-AT. This time after spray panting with white primer, i used a series of washes, first a couple of diluted grey washes, then a grey wash mixed with white and blue, then I added a steel colour to the grey wash and the finished off with a final grey wash.

All images were taken in my front garden in -15 C (wind chill -25 C). In the current cold snap I noticed gorgeous light on Sunday as the sun came up over the mountains of Kitimat. Monday was cloudy but today Tuesday was perfect. Cameras. Wide shots taken with Sony Alpha 6000 with 18 to 55. Medium shots with Sony Alpha 6000 and Sony Alpha 77 and close ups with Sony Alpha 77 with a Tamron 70 to 300 set on macro mode. The one problem was that when I tried to create tracks, the snow was so soft that in most cases, all that came of it was a big hole in the snow that didn’t look right. Also the wind kept blowing the model over.

Snowtrooper patrol

Snowtroopers on patrol on a snowy day, cursing the officers who sent them out. Another one of my Star Wars Command figure projects. Photographed in a snowstorm, in Kitimat, BC, January 6, 2017. (Robin Rowland)

Snowtroopers on a patrol in heavy snow. (Robin Rowland)
A snowtrooper in snow above his knees. (Robin Rowland)
The snowtroopers taking the point on this icy patrol (Robin Rowland)
Snowtrooper (Robin Rowland)
This snowtrooper wonders why he “volunteered” for this mission. (Robin Rowland)
Why does the Empire issue such crummy equipment? this snowtrooper wonders. (Robin Rowland)
A rebel snowspeeder has spotted the snowtrooper patrol. (Robin Rowland)
The view of the snowtrooper patrol from the snowspeeder (Robin Rowland)
“I have a bad feeling about this, bud,” the snowtrooper says. (Robin Rowland)

First crack: A dusty sandtrooper

A dusty, dirty, Star Wars sandtrooper. (Robin Rowland)
A dusty, dirty, Star Wars sandtrooper. (Robin Rowland)

When I decided that I needed a non-work related creative outlet (I am a professional photographer and writer) I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Then I saw a display of Hasbro Star Wars Command figures in a local drugstore. I immediately recognized that 1)the figures are cheap– something that is important when you are retired 2)the figures are 54mm or 1/32 scale a standard for military miniatures and 3)the plastic figures can be easily customized (which is part of my long term plans)

So this is my first crack at a Star Wars Command miniature. The detailing is a little ragged in some parts but overall it works– at least in the long shots, if not the closeups. Learning from experience the next figures will have better detailing.

Star Wars sandtrooper
A closer vertical image of the sandtrooper. (Robin Rowland)
Another angle on the Star Wars sandtrooper (Robin Rowland)
Another angle on the Star Wars sandtrooper (Robin Rowland)
Side view of the Star Wars Command 54mm 1/32 scale sandtrooper (Robin Rowland(
Side view of the Star Wars Command 54mm 1/32 scale sandtrooper (Robin Rowland)
Rear view of the Star Wars Command sand trooper. (Robin Rowland)
Rear view of the Star Wars Command sand trooper. (Robin Rowland)

I am using the standard military miniature painting and dipping techniques that I found online. Once I get a little better at it, I will add “how I did it” information to my posts.

Photography I am using my Sony Alpha 77 camera with the Sony 100mm macro lens. Figure placed on a sheet of white poster board and shot using sunlight coming through a window.