Is weathering your Hasbro Star Wars collection a step too far for devoted collectors?
If you are a Star Wars collector devoted to the preservation of your collection look away now…for this way heresy lies!
As a Star Wars mega fan, I have the pleasure of having some of the best friends and colleagues in the world. Whether devoted collector, or occasional dabbler in the Hasbro dark arts, they come in all shapes and sizes but are equally passionate about the products they collect.
Personally, I began my journey in 1978 with the release of the original Star Wars Trilogy. As a child, I had the benefit of having almost every action figure and vehicle from A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and played with them religiously. I was not opposed to the occasional customisation of my vehicles, the pinnacle of which was the removal of the Millennium Falcon’s deflector shield, which just seemed to bother me as a kid. As a rule, the Falcon was (and still is) my baby, the most beautiful vehicle in cinematic history. The Starship Enterprise is a thing of beauty and grace, the Imperial Star Destroyer a sleek and menacing triangle of doom and the Death Star a planetary monster but my heart will always remain aboard the Millennium Falcon.
Nowadays, the majority of my collection remains confined to its plastic prison, only opened when I have secured myself a second version for display purposes. I have the added benefit of an insane twelve-year-old son, who adores the saga as much as I and has a collection that rivals my own and opens every figure and vehicle to rein act the galactic civil war on the living room floor. His devotion to the saga allows me to see these figures out of the box and eliminates the need to open mine, as I once did so routinely.
However, in recent weeks my son and I have stumbled upon a YouTube tutorial video, where the presenter opened a £300 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Imperial AT-ACT walker and proceeded to “weather” it in order to recreate the battered look from the film. The original Star Wars trilogy presented us with a warn and battered galaxy reflective of the civil war that served as the backdrop to the narratives. Everything manifesting in the galaxy far, far away had seen better days, ravaged by the ongoing war between the Empire and the freedom fighters of the Rebellion.
Hasbro’s vehicle collection is notorious for offering the fans generic and case fresh star ships that afford the fans a just off the assembly line look that contradicts their appearance in the movies themselves. Over the last few years, I have become one of those collectors who refuses to remove his figures and vehicles from their boxes, and the notion of opening the expensive AT-ACT walker sent shivers of fear down my spine. But this guy was going a step further…he was opening it and planning to cover it paint!!!
How dare this guy open his AT-ACT and commit the ultimate act of treason by weathering it?!
I almost called for him to be burnt at the stake for witchcraft…until he assembled the incredible walker in all its glory…
As offended as I was, curiosity compelled me to watch the crime unfold and as he smothered the pristine grey plastic in watered down acrylic paint, my outrage morphed into intrigue. As he painted this black wash over the legs, the AT-ACT suddenly came to life and took on an all new dimension of realism that I had not expected. He swiftly moved on to the body and head, taking care to avoid the electronic parts of the vehicle which came to life just as impressively as the legs. Once the piece had been completed and allowed to dry, the end result was nothing short of incredible. It was the closest resemblance to the movies representation I had ever seen and it looked nothing short of spectacular.
Another video revealed a weathered U-Wing fighter, which looked as equally stunning as the AT-ACT and its incredible detail triggered my creativity and compelled me to try it for myself.
Thankfully, in recent weeks I had stumbled across a spare U-Wing fighter for the super low price of £16.99 from a retailer which would serve as my test vehicle for this experiment. Despite every instinct urging me to abandon this heinous act, I purchased the black acrylic paint, and Tamiya weathering master sets and returned to my desk with a pristine U-Wing fighter before me. As I assembled the impressive vehicle from Rogue One, I was filled with conflicting emotions. My heart was pleading with me not to wreck a brand new collectable, where as my head was urging me onwards in lieu of the reward of a movie accurate toy of model quality.
A final moment of debate followed where I wrestled with both urges, but in the end I decided that my spare U-Wing was worthy of a paint overhaul and without hesitation, I began to paint the framework in black acrylic wash. As suggested in the video, I left the mixture on the framework for less than a minute before wiping it clean with a cloth and the results were incredible.
The wash had left a slightly dirty finish to the once pristine white plastic and had filtered into the small crevasses aligning the fuselage highlighting every panel of the hull. As the wash continued to cover the entire craft, the detail came alive in stunning fashion and as I wiped off the excess, a battered and aesthetically accurate representation of the U-Wing revealed itself. Needless to say, the more wash I added the more the vehicle looked screen accurate which easily vindicated my decision to begin the process in the first place. Once completed and allowed to dry, the finish was spectacular but was far from the finished article.
Grabbing the Tamiya weathering master kits, I began to blend the rust and soot colours and proceeded to add detail to exhaust vents. The blend added and impressive level of detail to the nooks and crannies allowing for a more authentic look and afforded the vessels inner workings a realistic quality. Smaller blemishes were added to the fuselage to represent blaster damage and adding a second blend of orange rust and gun metal only helped to accentuate its battle warn image.
The majority of the blemishes were based upon the stills released from the movie but once the results were revealed, my creativity compelled me to add even more detail which only added a new level of depth and character to the vessel.
Once completed and allowed to dry the U-Wing looks incredible, especially when compared to my sons box fresh version which has been played with religiously. My weathered version now looks as close to its movie counterpart as I have ever seen and looks amazing alongside the Rogue One action figures. From a small pot of cheap black acrylic paint and a few inexpensive professional Tamiya weathering master kits, came a remarkably realistic starship worthy of my collection which goes above and beyond the box fresh version from a day earlier.
Despite every fibre of my being pleading with me not to tamper with my beloved Star Wars vehicles, the results are superlative. The idea of opening a box fresh vehicle and coating it in paint sent shivers of panic down my spine, and rightly so. It is a foreign concept to an avid collector like myself, one that relies upon the item collected remaining in pristine condition, but in having a spare vehicle bought at a fraction of the retail price available it was an acceptable gamble.
Weathered to perfection?!
Without hesitation, I would apply this procedure to any vehicle in my collection once a duplicate had been acquired…the results are just that good. To have a screen accurate vehicle in my collection is an absolute joy and a Star Wars Rebels A-Wing has now been procured for the same treatment.
However, even though the results are incredible I would not apply this overhaul to an expensive Imperial AT-ACT walker or Millennium Falcon without a great deal of soul searching. If a bargain presented itself…my decision would change, but without a back-up version it would not even enter my thinking…the collector in me would have kittens!
But I digress, the U-Wing fighter looks incredible and takes pride of place in my collection. If the A-Wing turns out well and the Wobani Stormtrooper I have planned to weather looks awesome, I will be painting away more frequently to produce these screen accurate beauties.
If the inner collector inside me can stand the strain…
What do you think? Would you weather your collection or do you believe the process to be an act of heresy? Drop me a line and share your thoughts…or click on my link here Phil Roberts for twitter.
And check out the inspirational video from the Dan-O Channel here:
Until next time
May The Force Be With You