First of all, apologies for the liberties I’ve taken with the header image for this post. I don’t usually like editing the photos, but I just had too much fun with posing Chewie, but it wasn’t as clear what I was going for without adding in the blur effects and background. This is a model that I’ve been avoiding building, entirely due to it’s reputation. And I kinda regret waiting. I mean, it’s reputation as a delicate and easy to mangle model is not entirely unjustified. But man does it look cool! It’s going to be fragile in nature, but if it wasn’t, then it wouldn’t look as cool. Of course, I’m somewhat biased, given that I am a sci-fi nerd and love Star Wars.
I am a little annoyed that the triangular foil array at the front is tilted downward, which doesn’t seem right, but am comforted that I’m not the only one who encountered that issue. Putting that aside, there are a tone of details to look at beside that little issue. The layering on the engine compartment, the greeblies everywhere, and even the way they managed to execute the support beams between the foils is brilliant.
Now, as I said, this model has a bit of a reputation. And it is a bit fragile and finicky, and it has some sequences that can be a bit of a bugger. But I don’t think it was nearly as frustrating as I was expecting it to be, given the reputation. That could be on me, and just inflating the reputation in my mind while avoiding the model. Nevertheless, it’s nothing close to a Y-Wing or A-Wing in complexity and challenge. But it’s definitely not medium or lower difficulty, either. Just remember to be patient, to read the instructions thoroughly, and read ahead.
I found myself starting this model using a technique that I don’t often use, but seemed fitting because of how this model starts. The very beginning starts with what I think of as the engine housing, and attaching a whole lot of greeblies to it. What I chose to do was to just roll through all the greeblies and form them up without attaching them, placing them on the instructions sheet over their part-reference bubbles. Once I had them all shaped up, I diverged from the instructions and introduced some initial curving to the housing itself (part 2). I didn’t form it completely, because that would make attaching all the greeblies challenging, but by pre-forming it some, I can break in the curve with a cylinder of some sort without the tabs getting in the way. Then, after attaching all the greeblies, I can come back and finish up those curves so that the ends meet at the bottom (but I did remember to not close it up, as per the instructions callout).
The instructions for forming one pair of greeblies (parts 6) threw me off a little because the instructions in the orange bubble didn’t seem to match the picture as it’s being attached. And that’s because the part gets turned around 180 degrees from it’s orientation in the bubble to when it’s getting attached. So, yes, the little flaps on the side do fold away from the side with the single-tab flap-thingy. And then it gets turned around when attaching, so the single-tab flap-thingy is on the back and the side flaps are now sticking out towards the viewer (of the instructions).
For attaching the support bars (part 9 in the example below) that align the foils / fin things (part 8 in the example below), I would suggest a couple of things to help this go a little more smoothly. First of all, fold it just a bit at the crease in the middle before you do anything. You want to break that fold in so that when you finishing it up, the metal will prefer to bend at the fold, rather than curve along the length. Next, fold the tabs down a little on either end a bit. Not a full 90 degrees, something like 30-45 degrees. This will make it a little more interesting feeding the bar through the slot in the foil / fins, but will make getting those tabs through their slots in the engine housing (or other foils, in the tri-foil instance of this) so much easier. Not to mention securing the tab once it’s through (especially if you plan on folding them).
Forming the three oblong cylinder like objects (base parts being 10, 13, and 14) was fairly straight-forward, except for the fact that I got myself good and confused between parts 13 and 14. I decided to go ahead and attach parts 11 (and 12) before I started forming any of the three. Once I’d done that, I started second-guessing myself and thought that I had switched up parts 13 and 14. I think the way it’s rendered (which makes sense for where it’s going to end up at) messed with my mind. When looking at the final form, the edge with the tabs is to the “left” of the edge with the slots (for part 13, the other way for part 14). However, the pre-formed section, where you are attaching part 11 to each of them has the tabs on the right edge, and the slots on the left. So I felt like there was a mistake, except there isn’t. It’s just that the left edge from the before gets wrapped around cylinder-like and ends up to the right of it. Anyways, it threw me for a loop, so I thought I’d mention it.
So, the usual way I go about writing these reviews is to walk back through the instructions and reflect upon my build experience. I’ve found it’s the best way to make sure I recall everything I thought would be valuable to share. I also try to take notes during the build, though sometimes I forget. But another thing that happens from time to time, as happened just now, is that I realize that I completely missed a small detail or step. With this build, it happens to be folding the three little flaps around the outside of the trim piece (part 22) on the rear of the bike. If you don’t believe me, check out the photos above… I did. And they are definitely not folded in. Which is funny, because I remember thinking that I should pre-fold those flaps a little during my read-through of the instructions before the build. Anyways, don’t miss this little detail, and it might behoove you to pre-fold them, as I should have. Now I guess I’ll have to do it super-carefully with the fully built model.
And now for my biggest beef with the instructions on this model… the little hose-like things coming off the bottom of parts 26 and 29 – the instructions look like you are just supposed to leave them alone, just fold that whole bottom flap inwards to the given angle (though, when I looked closely, there’s not even a blue-line indicator for folding that in). But when you try to leave them alone, you quickly realize that you can’t attach them to part 25 that way, given that the hoses can’t pass through it. So then you might guess that you are just supposed to fold them to parallel to the surface of part 25. And you might do that. Then, much later, you find that they are in the way, once again! This time it’s when you are attaching part 41 to the bottom of part 25… and the hoses are, once again, trying to pass straight through another part. So, you might think, I should just check the 360-view, right? Unfortunately, the 360-view isn’t available. I decided to just do it my own way. I folded them to point straight out, and then curved them down across the length of the hoses. You can see the results in one of the photos in the gallery (complete with an embarrassing amount of fuzzies – that’s what I get for having a houseful of pets!).
So the next thing I did I might not advise for everyone. But I’ve gotten comfortable with accessing and securing tabs in tight quarters, so the cost/benefit analysis turned out in my favor. I didn’t like how unstable the assembled section above was, with the U-shape of part 25 just sitting wide open through the next few steps, nothing stabilizing the folds in it. So I read through the instructions and found where an adjacent part or something might help stabilize it. And I was comfortable dealing with all the tabs in-between with them closed, so I went ahead and attached part 35 and closed the flaps at the back of part 25 as soon as I was finished folding it into a U-shape.
Next up are the long struts that connect the front tri-foil bit to the rest of the swoop bike, and this is, I believe, where most people get frustrated with this model. Because these struts are delicate, thin, and finicky. Take. Your. Time. This is a situation where going slow is really going to pay off. Planning out you approach, and be careful to fold where you need to fold first, so that it doesn’t make future folds difficult. And finally, consider holding off on attaching part 34 until after you’ve attached the first set of struts (part 33) to the “part 25 assembly.” I didn’t think ahead here, unfortunately, but not having the two sides of part 33 held tight together by part 34 would have made it easier to spread open and slip around the part 25 assembly to slot the tabs home.
When it came to the steering yokes, I found that it was difficult to get them to “lean back” towards the seat, like the instructions suggests, at least when the front tips were slotted into the gap under the arch of part 34. On top of that, the bars that slip under that arch had to curve around the hood. Oh, and before I forget, another thing that I found challenging was not mangling the little gun-like greeblies (parts 28 and 31) that are attached to the sides of part 25. I just kept squishing them and bending them accidentally while handling, so watch out for those!
Strangely, despite the delicate and fragile strut assembly, the part of the build I found most challenging was forming part 44, which might be described as the belly of the bike? I wish there was a bit more guidance on how this part was curved, because I found the one angle to be very ambiguous. I ended up leaving it a little too open, but that worked out with the need to wrap it over the tabs that slot through it. It was just a very tense moment securing those tabs, as I was squeezing the part tight and hoping not to crush it, or lose my grip and throw it accidentally. Yeah, I don’t have the steadiest of hands when tensing the muscles. Oh, and then I re-adjusted those curved hoses I had a whole hissy fit about earlier. Because I didn’t curve them in such a way that they actually would fit in place. Wheeeee!
From here on out, the build is relatively straight-forward. Building the tri-foil was familiar, thanks to the sail at the back of the bike, though the way it attaches to the front end of the struts is quite unique. Lots of fun finding a way to align all those tabs at once. And, like I said before, I did have trouble with it being forced to lean forward a little bit. Joining the two halves of the bike together went surprisingly well, almost easy. Putting together the two stands can be an exercise in balance, unless you use temporary twists to hold it together, then convert them to folds one by one. I’m not a big fan of the two separate stands… I kept having trouble placing the model on them correctly. I think I might find a way to fix them together, or maybe 3D-print a stand.
All told, this was a fun and challenging build that took me a bit over four hours to complete. Not counting the time I spent knolling out the parts beforehand, that is. I’ve been forgetting to mention that lately, but I don’t record that section, so I don’t really know how much time I spend, though it’s usually an hour or two on complicated models like this one. If you want to watch any part of the build for reference, the videos are embedded below. Sorry if I stray out of view or hold it in a way that isn’t helpful. I’ve tried watching what I’m doing through the camera’s point of view, but that does not go well.