Well, no need to mince words here, this model is gorgeous. I think I might even prefer it to the peacock. And, apologies to the purists, but this model and the peacock are justification alone for the printed-color models. Also, we need more models with feathers, cause they create a serious wow factor, right? I may be gushing a bit, but I am really impressed with how this model turns out. Metal Earth – you’ve knocked another one out of the park.
Now, when it came time to create a 360-video (or take photos, for that matter), I had to get creative for this model. Because it’s got one heck of a wing-span, and the tail makes it rather tall, too. And, well… I really wanted to get the “in-flight” look. So, I gimmicked up a string, looped through a few feathers, to hold it up by it’s wings. Don’t get me wrong, the included acrylic stand is great for displaying this, and major props for including that. But this just had to happen.
Honestly, though, photos do not do this model justice. You need to get it and build it to appreciate how stunning it really is. The colors, the contrast, the curves… it’s just amazing. And… as daunting as it looks, it’s not actually that challenging. Obviously, you should be comfortable with curves, but if you have that, then you can tackle this build. It does require a good helping of patience, and there are a few tight fits, but it is so worth it. I really wanted to take this outside and photograph it in nature, cause that seems like the most appropriate thing to do, but everything is three-quarters of the way to dormant here, so it just would look out of place. Maybe sometime in the spring.
I made things hard on myself during the first part of this build as I shaped all of the rings for the body of the parrot. For some reason, I decided that these parts were supposed to be complete rings (probably because of the way they appear, given the angle, in Step 11), so I shaped them that way. However, there actually is a large opening along the back of the body, except for the final two rings. So form Steps 1-7 with a bit of a gap, and Steps 8 & 9 so that they will make a complete ring (just don’t close those rings until the end of Step 11). In Steps 10 and 11, You’ll probably have an easier time securing the segments together if you open up the rings to a wider curve so the tabs can fit into the slots. Then you can squish it closed for the last 2 rings.
After that, I built the head and legs and then attached them. They are pretty straight forward, so I don’t have much to say about them. Well, no. I would say that, when forming part 4 (the top of the head/beak) you might want to fold the crease between the beak and head first, then form the curves. Just a general rule of thumb when you need sharp folds adjacent to curves – do the fold first, if you can.
Then I decided to re-arrange the build process, and skipped to forming the top-side of the wings. In standard build order, the next step is to build the tail and back of the bird (which also has the underside of the wings), and attach that to the body. I decided that I would rather wait until I’d finished up the wings, so it wouldn’t be resting in some awkward way on the proto-wings or tail the whole time I was building the wing-tops. Especially as those were built on separate days. That’s how I decided to approach it, but another way would be to skip ahead and build the acrylic display stand, so that you can place the assembled body with tail / under-wings on that.
Anyways, on with the wings! I have good news and bad news, depending on how you will perceive it. This beautiful model has individual feathers on only one row of each wing. All the rest of the feathers are joined together into strips of feathers that get layered on top of each other. But those mass of individual feathers take time, repetitive time. So, you could view the fact that it’s only one row on each wing as a relief from monotony. At the same time, individual feathers would be more “authentic” so you might think more rows of individual feathers would be better. However, the panels of individual feathers are layered tightly enough that it’s easily mistaken for being a bunch of individual feathers. And there’s actually another reason that you might be glad for it not having multiple rows of individual feathers…
When dealing with the individual feathers, you need to fold those tabs as close to the edge as possible. Seriously. Any slop will multiply, and then you will have a section of feathers that is too long to match up with connecting to the next layer. Which leans towards having weird bumps in the array of feathers. I know, cause I had just the slightest bit of slop on the folds of the first wing I build, and it took some persuading to get those bumps to smooth out (mostly). So fold them right up on the edge. It’s worth the extra effort.
Now, when assembling the row of individual feathers, I took the time to use some sharpies to color in the little gold circles with the numbers in them (and the stars on the first wing). I guess they leave them without color to make them easier to read / find. But I’m not a fan of the way they stand out when you can see them through the adjacent layer of feathers, so I filled them in. I was lucky and had some colors that were pretty close matches. Oh, and I colored all the folded over tabs, too. And that adds quite a bit of time to the build process. Especially when you accidentally wipe the color off and have to reapply it.
For building out these individual feather rows, I would recommend an assembly line process, if you have the room for it. I tried to do it one at a time with the first wing, but then went with assembly-line style for the second, and it seemed much smoother. Basically, I got all the feathers and lined them up in order. Then I went through and folded all the tabs (stay focused! It’s easy to get mixed up and fold the tabs the wrong way… I did it several times)… one up, one down, repeat. After I’d done that, keeping them in order, I went back through and colored in all the circles. Then, once I’d finished the prep-work, I began to assemble them together, one by one, sliding home the tabs, folding them, then picking up the next feather. So nice and smooth, finishing with a pass across it all, coloring in the tabs so they “disappear.”
Then I had the fun of curving up all the feather tips. This is something that takes time and delicacy. I used my largest battery, C-Size, to give an initial curve to each individual feather – they aren’t all lined up parallel, so I did each one individually. Then I went through and hand-tuned each one with my fingers, finishing with introducing a slight curvature along the extent of the wing, more pronounced at the outer reaches. The instructions don’t have you do this until you’ve assembled the full wing, but I find that I prefer to do things like this earlier on than the instructions usually indicate.
Then came curling the tips of the first row of colored connected feathers. Another long, slow, careful process, though more of these feathers could be curled in groups. I kept the curl quite light, thinking I didn’t want to go overboard. However, after assembling all the layers together, I decided I wanted them more curved, and had to kinda “pluck” the feather tips with my fingernails to give them more curve. Which introduces some imperfections / variance in the curvature, and I ended up really liking the inconsistency – it seemed to make it look more natural. Once again, I finished by adding that curvature, before attaching it to the row of feathers I’ve already formed. This is where I discovered the “bump” from the tiny amount of slop when folding the tabs on the individual-feathers row. Took some time to work that out, but it helped establish / reinforce that curvature across the wing, sorta.
After that, you attach one golden row of feathers to the bottom (yeah, that surprised me at first). Then attach rows of shorter and shorter feathers until you complete a wing. This includes a heck of a lot of curving of feather-tips, and sometimes the tips are short enough that it’s a struggle to curve and not fold the tips. Lots of patience is required for this build. But, once you get all the layers connected, you can finish up establishing that curve across the length of the wing. For a more natural look, I suggest working towards the curve being more pronounced along the backside of the wing and out past the “knuckle” of the wing, while keeping the inner part of the front of the wing mostly flat. Hopefully that makes sense.
I was a bit confused as to why there was only one row of golden feathers on the underside of the wing, and then a bunch of exposed layering lines, but moved on and repeated the process with the other wing. Which is built in an identical fashion, except the tabs are folded in mirror fashion for the individual feathers. And the explanation for the single-layer of feathers and exposed layer lines is simply this: I changed up the order, which resulted in me forgetting that the underwing is mostly attached to the back/tail assembly I hadn’t built yet. Those underwings are etched and patterned like feathers, and completely cover up that so-called “exposed” layering. Silly me!
Which brings us to the assembly of the tail-back section. Building out the tail took me longer than I thought it would, and I struggled somewhat with the layering and getting the curvatures wrong. Yeah, I said wrong. I curved the feathers down pretty well, but I didn’t get the curvature across the layers of feathers at all right. They curve a lot more than I was expecting. Anyways, for these feathers, I ended up using an interesting technique to curve the feathers along their entire length. I laid them down on top of the instructions (several of the sheets, in fact) and then, using the edge/corner of a battery, I pressed down firmly and slid the battery from the base of each feather out to the tip, riding along the center of the feather. This trick creates a really nice, smooth curve that get’s more pronounced as you repeat it on a single feather. It can also create a light crease down the middle of the feather, too, which I think looks nice. This works much in the same way as curling ribbon over the blade of a pair of scissors (though much less curve is established per pass). You can see me do this in the first part of the fourth build video for this model, if my explanation isn’t clear. You can also get a gentle curve just by sliding the curved side of a battery across any part, as a general technique, but the pointed pressure I used in this case was to get a more pronounced curve.
This does make things a little more challenging when it comes to layering up the tail feather rows, but again, I like to do this earlier than the instructions usually say to do it. In fact, I just checked the instructions, and I don’t think it actually says to curve the tail feathers ever, just to curve them across the rows after layering, and then kinda fold them down after attaching the back to the body? I dunno. I guess the curving made more sense to me, but it might be completely inaccurate.
Eventually, after doing a few layers of tail feather rows, you form up the under-side of the wings and the back of the parrot. I suggest you establish a good solid crease at the point the wings meet the “back” before curving the back at all, just because it’s hard to crease right next to a curve (like I said before, sorry… repeating myself). Then there’s a bunch of feather tip curving… oh, wait. I did that first, then did the folding, and curving of the back. Lots of steps to juggle with a simple seeming part. But that’s not the real challenge.
The real challenge of this model is aligning the back to the body. Getting all those tabs folded to the correct angle, and then lined up and slotted, and then securing those evil tabs. I so should have done a twist-and-fold operation with those tabs, but I didn’t. No, I decided they should all be folded, simply folded, for appearance purposes. Don’t be me. Twist, and then fold. That would have been so much easier. Also, this is where I discovered that I did not, at all, curve the tail feathers across the rows nearly enough. Because they have a couple of tabs that secure to the side of the body / butt, and I had to add a significant amount of curve to get those tabs folded.
Aw shoot. I forgot! I actually build the acrylic display stand before the tail feathers / back. Or did I? I can’t remember at this point, even though I did it just the other day. Oh well. The display stand is pretty straight forward, but don’t forget to peel the protective paper off the acrylic – which is really not easy when you have no fingernails. A good hobby knife, used carefully, is a real asset for assisting those with tiny or non-existent fingernails. I pressed the parts together as far as they would go, it’s a nice tight fit. But, don’t make the tabs stick out past the bottom layer of the base… it makes it wobbly. Trust me. Haha. Ha. Haha. Sigh.
The final step, for me, was attaching the wing tops, which is a bit of a juggling act. Or maybe a magic act in finding the right way to hold the parts and align the tabs to the slots. and I’m pretty sure that the slots are spaced slightly differently than the tabs, so that securing them helps establish a good curvature to the overall wings, as well as raise them “upward” from the body. But that could just be my experience. What I will suggest, though, is that you get a couple tabs aligned, and fold/secure them, then do another pair, then another pair, etc, until you get them all. Because I really doubt anyone can line up all the tabs in their slots all at once without securing some of them first.
Holy cow… that was a longer review post than I was expecting. Long, and with not many instruction pictures. I guess I could have put more in for context, but this build didn’t seem like it needed visual aids – the instructions were pretty darn clear and didn’t really need anything called out for clarity or dispute. So, sorry about the lack of pictures breaking up all the text, but they just didn’t seem justified this week. Even the two pictures that were in there were not annotated, just included so the repeated references to step numbers would have context.
This beautiful birdie took me a mere 5 hours to build. I mean, that’s not a short time, except when you compare it to the results, because this thing looks amazing for 5 hours of build time. You can watch the full build process in the YouTube playlist below. First video is body/head. Then a video for each wing, and a fourth video of pulling all the parts together to finish the model.