Well, I have taken to keeping track of my build counts, because people ask me how many I’ve built from time to time. And being me, I keep a count of how many of each brand. And I’ve been closing in on 300 for Metal Earth, so I thought I should do something special. I built these three Avatar Banshees. Three – Three Hundred… you get it right? Of course, that means these are actually builds 300, 301, and 302 for Metal Earth… but that’s fine with me.
Now, I don’t normally pick up models that are identical in build, cause I want to spread my money across more experiences. Though, admittedly, my “Gotta Build ‘Em All” penchant does result in me building duplicates that are exclusive variants (just in case the exclusive gets discontinued). Which, in this case does come into play, as you can only get these at Disney Parks. But also, they are Dragon-Adjacent!!! And, being models that are open to artistic expression with all the curvature of the wings, I could build the three with very different styles.
Now, these ended up being a lot bigger than I expected. I mean, I knew they were 3-sheets, but there really aren’t that many parts for a 3-sheet model (clocking in at a whopping 24 pieces, seriously). And there is not a lot of layering to them. However, these models are rather special in another way: they are colored on both sides! Which really contributes to how gorgeous they are. On top of that, they allow for a lot of liberty and self-expression in the styling / shaping / curving. If you can’t tell, I had a lot of fun with that part, although…
The curvature suggestions / guides in the instructions are weird. And, truth be told, I went with it for my first build (Blue), following them fairly closely, but with a little extra flair. Then I moved on to the next build (Green) and tried for a slight variation, aiming for a pose that was supposed to represent a Banshee in the process of coming in for a landing. I even modified the stand to get the right “approach” angle for that one. And it went fairly well. I mean, the middle “feather” on the wings being curved in the opposite direction on the Blue Banshee seemed weird, but they’re alien bird-dragons, so… who knows, right?
But then, I decided that I wanted to do something extreme for the final one (Purple), and have it sitting/crouching/standing. So I decided to pull up some reference photos from the actual movie. Which actually meant watching a clip on YouTube and taking screenshots. And you know what I learned? That the first two were just all sorts of wrong. That inverted curve on the center feather? Nope. The way I curved the wings? Nope. It really hit me when I decided to look at it from an anatomical perspective. These are closer to pterodactyls or bats than birds. Each of those “feathers” is a finger, and the wing also has a “finger bone” in it. And those bones can’t curve (much). It also holds for the back wings/legs, too. Here’s one of the screenshots with an attempt to illustrate the “bones” in it:
And so, before starting the final build, I took some time to think out how the two I’d already built should be re-imagined with a mind for their anatomy. And then I just buckled down to re-shape / re-style them. And, because I like to usually include build videos, and the videos I’d already taken wouldn’t match the final forms of these two, I decided to film the re-styling separately. Not only that, I decided to do a little “narration” while I was at it. So, I’m just going to throw that video in here, rather than at the bottom (it’s all of 30 minutes long). Oh, and one other thing… whoever built the model for the official 360-view of the Green Banshee appears to agree with me on the middle “feather” curvature.
Alright, so back to our regular scheduled programming, yes? By which I mean, let’s get back to the normal review formula, where I start to talk about how difficult the build is and any advice or tips/tricks I might have gleaned while building them. So… yeah, these birdies (I was gonna say puppies, but that just didn’t seem right) aren’t terribly hard, but there’s a lot of open expression in the curves, which can be intimidating. Other than that, it’s mostly simple, with a scattering of frustrating to align tabs thrown in along the way.
That being said, there are some minor ambiguities in the instructions, and they start right out of the gate with part 1, the “torso” of these creatures. I totally got caught out by this when building the first one, so I know it’s at least easy to misunderstand the diagram. Because the curve does not extend all the way to the base. The bottom of the torso actually makes a V-shape, which is obvious when you look at the front and back parts that fold up. In addition, there’s a little bit of an s-curve in there on both those parts, and the sides.
Next up, you get to put together the back wing, legs. Be sure to fold those tabs as close to the edge as possible. After I joined the two haves together, I chose to go ahead with doing a little initial shaping on this assembly so that I can get the curves started without having to worry about damaging the torso of the model. I didn’t finalize my shapes at this point, but I got it started, at least. Then came attaching it to the underside of the body, which is a bit frustrating, as the long segments of the sides are hard to wrangle into position, and it’s very easy to accidentally insert the tabs into the wrong slots. But it can be done. And it’s very important to fold these tabs over, don’t twist! The “legs/spine” part that goes on over this does not have enough room for a twisted tab. Though you might be able to get away with a twist and fold. Oh, and the front tabs of the legs part were a pain in the but to align, at least for me.
After that step, you get to put together the top wings and tail. Which involves a lot of similar close-to-the-edge tab folds. Which I’m sure would annoy the snot out of my good friend, AnimateOrange. But then, after you’ve done that, and possibly some pre-shaping on the wings again (wink, wink), you get to experience the “joy” of attaching this wing/tail assembly to the torso. I agree with the tip in the instructions, it’s a good idea to start with the middle two pairs of tabs, but you might want to make sure to use the correct slots, despite the blue callout lines pointing to the wrong ones in the back. But that doesn’t make it easy, so much as probably less frustrating. These tabs / slots are in tight and narrow places that are far inside the wing body. And the shaping of the body is not going to want to align right, cause it’s just kinda futzy like that. I build three of these, and I never got any better at getting that shape “right” for this alignment. The best advice I can give you is this: be patient, stay calm, and persist. You’ll get it!
Following that, you’ll be attaching the little wing “feathers.” Remember that you fold the tabs up and attach it on the bottom of the wing. Cause I totally forgot on my second build (the green one). It’ll still work the other way, but adjusting their position can get complicated if you do. And like all the other things, I would suggest that you give these feathers a slight curve to get it started before attaching. Then you move on to forming what I feel like is everyone’s “favorite” part of dragon or dragon-adjacent models: the neck! Yes, that was sarcastic. The first segment of the neck (part red 5) is really a weirdly shaped “cylinder/cone/oval” mixture. And, annoyingly, the next segment of the neck (part red 4) does not completely line up, and you end up with a slight gap in the underside. C’est la vie. Oh, and that extra tab on the first ring segment… that threw me for a loop. I thought I had a missing slot, or was putting it together wrong. But, no… that tab is supposed to be sticking up as with another later. They’re used in attaching the saddle / tackle.
Next, after you’ve formed and attached the “arms/spine” part, you’ll get to attach the neck to the body. Which is another moment of madness for slotting those tabs. Now, the instructions suggest that you fold the tabs straight out, and just magic them both through the slots from the inside. It drives me nuts when the instructions do stuff like this. In this case, it was extra hard, cause the neck ring was wider then the gap where the slots are. And I wasn’t going to try to insert the tabs from the outside in, cause there’s no easy way to get inside there to secure them.
So I decided to use my go-to strategy for this sort of circumstance. First, I use my hobby knife to fold the tab slots out, wedging the tip of the Xacto knife through the slot (from the inside towards the outside) and then pivoting the knife on the slot to bend it outwards without it closing up too tight for a tab to slot through. Next, instead of folding the tabs out at a 90 degree angle, I folded them out just a little, and then folded the very tip out to about 45 degrees. By doing these two things, I can squeeze the neck a little and get the tips of the tabs to go into the angled slots, and then as I push them through (or sometimes pull them by that tip with pliers) it will “fold” the tab out as it gets seated. I hope that makes sense.
Moving on from there, you get to attach the tack and saddle, which is just so much fun! Okay, it’s not really that bad. I just have giant sausage fingers. I definitely suggest that you pre-curve the tack and saddle part quite strongly. The long straps you can leave straight, but curve the two other sets of straps a good bit (not the ones with the tabs sticking out). I tried adding some curve to the long straps beforehand, but they just kept slipping into the cracks in the side of the body, which was super annoying. Also, I got super confused by the diagram, and initially spent a lot of effort getting those straps to go between the two wing layers. Then, after securing the neck-wrap tabs, I came back and figured out that the long straps are actually supposed to go under the back wings, too. In fact, I think that little strip of the back wings that sticks forward needs to be angled up just a little to accommodate the strap. Anyways, the diagram in the instructions was what confused me, so I called it out below, and “edited” it to make it clearer… I think. Oh, and those straps can be a pain to secure. Sometimes I folded the strap back over after passing through the buckle. It doesn’t look that bad.
Finally, after attaching all of the tackle, you get to build the head (watch out for the sharp teeth!). It’s a bit of trial and error and adjustment to get the curves of each of the parts to match so the seams look alright. And, because I’m me, I bent in the teeth a little. I like it better that way. And bending the curve into the middle bottom tooth is a pain in the butt (but dang that head/face looks insane!). The only complaint I have about this section is that there are only two tabs on the side of the neck attaching the head on. And it doesn’t like to (at least for me) stay up. Instead, it flops down exposing a big gap between the back of the head and the neck. Then again, I ended up tilting the head down on purpose in one of my builds… so I guess maybe that was on purpose?
In the end, each of these builds took about 2 hours to complete, plus or minus ten minutes (that does not include the half-hour of restyling across the first two). I really rather enjoyed the build, and even if they are closer to pterodactyls than dragons, I’m still displaying them in my dragons section! You can see the build videos for these models in the playlist below (without audio). I also included the “Restyling” video from earlier at the end of the playlist… because organization is good.