Construction Notes, Modeling project, Product Review

Joycraft F-16D Viper Toon

Last year, Joycraft launched a new series of products: fully 3D-printed aircraft kits. You may recall a review I posted here a while ago of a book from that company, written by master modelers René Joyal and Jarek Rydzyski.

When Joycraft announced its first kit, I jumped on it for a number of reasons. First, it was a fully 3D printed kit, and I wanted to see firsthand how they would go about producing that, Second, well, Joycraft is awesome and I was pretty sure anything it would come up with would be interesting. So I preordered a kit, got it, and built it. Here’s how it went.

What’s in the box?

The kit came in a super neat package, a work of art in itself (which apparently will change a bit in future offerings to make it more efficient). All the parts were neatly glued on a sturdy cardboard plate. Right away I could see that the definition of the print was pretty crisp.

Getting down to work

The first order of business was to clean the parts. Now, let me tell you right away, it looks much worse than it actually is. It took me about an hour to prepare all the parts down to basic cleanup so that I would only have to finish cleaning up each part more precisely once ready to put it into place.

You need to be extra careful, however, to avoid breaking parts. It’s not a huge deal, but this is not like cast resin, and certainly not like injected styrene. 3D printing resin is brittle and fragile. In the course of the project, I broke a number of parts that weren’t too complicated to fix, but it was self-inflicted pain nonetheless.

The Kit

The kit is a pretty cool design of a pretty cool jet fighter. I am not, myself, a huge fan of toon planes, but this one struck a note and grabbed my attention. Contrary to most toon planes I’ve seen, this one keeps the right ‘vibe’ of the F-16, and even though it is a vastly simplified version of the original, it keeps its awesome aerodynamics and signature lines. It comes with a centerline tank and two wing tanks, two AIM-9M, two AIM-120C, and two AGM-88. In other words, it is armed to the teeth.

In the end, I went for a more sleek loadout, but that isn’t exactly a voluntary choice. Rather, I was the victim of my own inexperience.

The kit is pretty well engineered. The cockpit is not only very detailed, but it fits pretty well without any issues to speak of. I didn’t take pictures of all the kit’s details, but the flight stick, the throttles, and a bunch of switches are all fully present. This level of detail and crispness makes it very promising for the future: a kit of this level of quality won’t require additions.

The instructions are pretty clear as well most of the time, and the decals are from Cartograf and are of excellent quality. You get two options in the kit: a Polish and a Greek aircraft. (I decided to add a fictional squadron insignia on mine and cut a Corinthian Helmet I found on the Internet. )

There are two things that aren’t quite awesome, though. The two-parts fuselage and the canopy. The former requires a pretty hefty putty job while the latter implies that your sanding and polishing chops are up there. I guess this had the benefit of forcing me to put those skills to practice. Joycraft told me that their next offering, the F-16I Sufa, will come with a one-piece fuselage.

In addition, I think it is fair to say that while a cute little toon plane, this kit isn’t for beginners. Like I said, parts are fragile to prepare and handle, you need a solid knowledge of CA glue handling, and PLEASE DRY-FIT EVERYTHING.

Yup, this is why you don’t see my ship bristling with missiles. You not only need to clean the wing hardpoints locators, but you need to make absolutely certain they will slip-fit in those slits. I didn’t do that and, right at the end of the project, I started to try and wrestle them in, coming dangerously close to some catastrophic breakage. I deemed it safer to leave those ordnances alone.

Oh well, some more experience.

In the end, this project was a very satisfying change of pace. It wasn’t as simple a build as I had expected. It drilled home some basics that I, as an armor modeler, am not often required to put into practice. It was also an excellent demo of what 3D-printed modeling is likely to look like in the future, and I cannot wait to see what Joycraft will come up with for their next kits. I was so impressed with the quality of their kit that I ordered their Sufa right away.

Project Specs

Joycraft F-16D Toon

Construction Notes

Crazy Sideline: The Sanctuary 3 – Part 1

This has very little to do with the main focus of this blog, but who cares? I’m going on a limb here and I’m going to build and, hopefully, upgrade a spaceship.

The subject is the Sanctuary 3, a 1/200 (?) model that was included in Borderlands 3 Diamond Loot Chest each Gearbox developer (including Yours Truly) was given upon the release of that most awesome game. It has been sitting in the stash for a while and I decided to get a shot at it, not because I’m particularly fond of sci-fi subjects but because after working on Takom’s SA-N-12 I thought this might be another cool practice mule. I’ve had this idea for a while, after realizing most Star Wars ships have many parts of Tamiya panzer kits. Any random pic of the Millenium Falcon, for instance, reveals any number of 1/35 and 1/72 armor parts.

The Project

So here we are. The project is fairly simple: I’ll build the ship straight out of the box, then I’m going to scratch a few additional details using only spare parts. I’m not going for a super involved thing with DEL flashing in the boosters, etc. I’ll only add a bit of definition and relief, so to speak. It’s the painting part, and most specifically weathering, that’ll get a full serving.

The Kit

The kit doesn’t sport a brand per see, but I’m willing to bet it’s Revell, simply because it’s a snap-tite kit that is absolutely like Revell’s Star Wars kit. The fit is excellent, with a tolerance that makes for just the right amount of friction to make the parts hold while still being easy to mate. It took me about an hour and I was careful cleaning some parts and adding glue here and there to get better bonds.

As you can see in the following pictures, however, it’s not exactly a detailed kit. It is crude on the details, but considering it was a piece of merch sold in a videogame deluxe package, it makes total sense: the focus here is to allow fans to quickly obtain a nice replica of the spaceship they spent a good amount of time running in and flying on. As such, it is very well engineered.

The real fun will begin once the assembly is complete and I get to kitbash this into a somewhat more credible vessel. I don’t plan on making this a super intense crazy thing, mind you, but just improvising this into something a bit more realistic and cool. We’ll see.

Just to give you an idea of what I’m going for, here’s the center rear booster assembly before and after. It took me, I don’t know, ten minutes. It’s not much, but I really want to see where this can get. Thank goodness the kit’s styrene reacts well to both Mr. CementS and Tamiya Super Thin.