Not too long ago, I received a gift from the magnanimous Brad of AnimateOrange. He decided he wanted to reward me for helping out with the giveaways that he did this summer. And even though I told him that he didn’t have to, he went ahead and sent me this Venator-Class Star Destroyer. We’d been talking about it at some point, and though it’s a small-brand model, we both still wanted it because it was another Star Destroyer variant.
To be honest, I “couldn’t” wait to build it. But I had to, cause I had a few builds I had already planned out. But I got those out of the way, and finally got to build it. It’s such a unique and weird alternative layout for the Star Destroyer. Or, I guess as canon sees it, the predecessor to the Imperial-Class Star Destroyer we all are used to.
While I can’t figure out what brand this is Thanks to /u/BrotherAL1 on reddit, I now know that this is a DaTang model, and while the brand is not as well known, it still looks pretty darn good. I rather like the conical ends of the inner cylinders of the engines. And the cutouts on the sides make the shape a bit more dramatic that the usual Star Destroyer. The one decision I’m confused about with this interpretation is the separation of the pillars underneath the “bridge” like caps. Which doesn’t seem to match the pictures of the Venator-class Star Destroyer that I find online. In those, they seem like stepped layers of a connected set of pillars. Then again, it seems like the various pictures I’ve found online do not match each other, either. All in all, though, it’s a great looking model and and great addition to my collection.
Most of this build is fairly straight forward and not super challenging. It’s mostly straight folds and simple alignments. But as with almost any model, you’re still going to have your challenges in it. For this model, that’s mostly in the engines and the the (two?) bridges. And of course joining the two halves of the model together at the end. Because that’s always an interesting situation with Star Destroyers.
Now, not to knock a gift-horse in the mouth (wait, I think I goofed that phrase up a little), I was not expecting great things from this model, as it seemed like it was from a knock-off brand / no-name brand (as I saw it before learning the updated info from BrotherAL1). However, it turned out to be pretty well designed. And on top of that, the instructions were not the cheap photo-copy of a photo-copy that I was expecting. They were actually printed full-color on glossy paper. And when I say full-color, I mean it. Every part (not just the duplicates) gets what seems to be a unique color, both on the parts sheet diagram, and when attached to the model in the assembly diagram. Throughout the whole assembly. Now, the instructions still had some issues (including one random part rendered over the assembled render in one place), but it was much better than the other knockoff model’s I ended up with way back when I started. Anyways, here’s just how colorful it is:
One of the more confusing, or strange, parts of this build is when it comes to parts 4 & 5, which the instructions indicate placing on the model, but then it calls out to “not buckle” them. As I looked at that, and the later step where it says to “buckle them” after attaching parts 23 and 24, I eventually figured out the reasoning. Basically, the tabs on the side trim parts (23/24) actually come up underneath these parts, so you need to be able to get inside to secure those tabs. So… rather than placing them and then removing them, I just formed them and set them aside to attach after I got to where 23 and 24 get attached.
One thing that is a bit frustrating with these instructions is how thick they make the lines that outline the parts, especially when it comes to the smaller parts. It makes it hard to tell how each part is actually attached, because it just ends up as a dark tangle of black lines. The is especially evident when forming the bridges. In addition, you find that there is no way to tell that some of the parts have been curved, so I pointed those out in the graphic below. Another point in this graphic is the order of operations in forming the pillars that the bridges sit on. I chose to attach the additional layers first, then secure the little strips along the front and back between the two sides all at once. I hate having to play balancing acts with thin strips like that.
Now, when it comes to the engines, these present a little bit of a unique challenge, even though they are sorta-kinda-easier-looking than the cones on the Metal Earth Star Destroyer. Now, they seem simpler at first, because they are cylindrical, rather than conical. However, there are complications. The outer cylinders (parts 29 & 31) have cutouts on them, which makes getting the cylindrical shape a little harder (will want to bend more adjacent to the cutouts than elsewhere). And the inner cylinders (parts 28 and 30) have little triangles along one side that, while not indicated anywhere on the instructions, I believe are meant to bend inward to make a partial conical end to the cylinder (with an opening at the center). So, I would say that those combined details make them roughly on par with the classic Metal Earth engine cones.
So, those were rather obviously curved pieces. And while it does quickly beccome apparent that this part (35) needs to be curved, it is again not called out (at least I don’t think it is). Also, be sure to note that the part attaches to the “inside” of the bottom hull, with the curved part facing out. Oh, and it never really seemed to me like they ever rendered the hulls as being “folded” along the center line, but they are. You can use part 27 as a guide for how much to fold it, but the front isn’t folded quite as much as the back. Because of course.
And finally, the happy happy joy joy time of so many models: joining the two halves you have assembled. I have to say, though, that this one wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. That is until I got to the two tabs I indicated in the graphic below. For whatever reason, the designers took into account the fact that the side trim would need to be taller in the areas where the large cutouts on the side are, but did not apply the same logic for the smaller cutouts in the front. And so, when you try to secure these tabs, a small gap is left and you might be tempted to fight it tight. I did. And I ended up flattening the bottom hull at the front end. I’ve “popped” it back out, which then popped out the tabs, and it became a wrestling match of finding a middle ground. And the front section of the bottom hull of my build is now just a little bit wonky. So be warned.
And with that, I was done with my build! Just kidding. I put the engine section in upside down. Yeah, there is an upside down for that. The cutouts on the outer cylinders are supposed to be on the bottom. So I had to do some quick surgery and turn it around. Also, I missed tilting some of the little tilted panels (the ones on the top hull), and didn’t do it until halfway through the photo shoot of this model (which is why some photos have the panels tilted, and others don’t. But that is how building goes, right? You make mistakes and don’t see them until later, after you’ve already taken some photographs.
All in all, this was a relatively quick build, clocking in at around 3 hours (including the part where I corrected having put the engine block in upside down). It was enjoyable, and I now have another Star Destroyer in my fleet. It did make me wonder, though, what a Metal Earth version of the Venator-Class would be like. Hint, Hint, Nudge, Nudge. Anyways, feel free to watch the usual build videos, embedded below, if you want some reference. Still trying to figure out a way to fix the contrast issues so it’s easier to actually see what I’m doing. It’s a cheap-ish webcam, so I can’t really zoom in much, either. And I move around so much while building, I’m not sure that would be a good idea anyways…
This is one of the 10 models I bought from “Innovatoys Store” on AliExpress. (And yes, after buying it I realized that all the models are totally knockoffs. Your advice about looking for a picture of items in the correct packaging is something I’ll keep in mind. Plus I need to pay attention to my own gut.)
It’s still on its way, so I’ll let ya know when I get it and try to build it. (It is good to know its source. I’m glad you have all this advice here. I’m sure I’ll need it.) All the other models I ordered from the store are of Metal Earth models.
I don’t know that there is an official brand for the Venator model, to be honest. Or at least I don’t know it. I really wish there was an official Metal Earth Venator, though.
I just finished up my Venator and I believe it’s the same brand as yours. My instruction sheet looks just like the images you posted. The metal sheets were pretty good. I busted out my micrometer, and these sheets were maybe a half mil thinner than your average ME, which are about 8 mils thick.
One weird little thing I noticed was that the tabs had a tiny bulge on the sides. That’s common in the laser-cut and etched wooden 3D models which adds pressure to the connection, insuring a tighter fit. I was wondering if it helped the metal models any, but I didn’t even notice them as I was building. Another detail I both liked and disliked is that the bits holding the pieces to the rest of the sheet didn’t have the little “divots” in the part. It made it a little harder to cut the pieces out, but once I filed them down, there weren’t any unsightly gaps.
I’m very glad this wasn’t my first build. I wouldn’t’ve been able to finish because of the blocky images in the instructions. And I was glad for this post since it helped figure a few things out, like the position of the engines. I, too, squashed the bottom piece and had to refold it while trying to connect it to the sides at the call out. I just bent the tabs under and got on with it. I think the model itself is pretty good, but the instructions not so much. But it was a fun build.