Over the years I managed to collect several of the ancient Monogram BSG Cylon BaseStars. While the Galactica kit is generally considered pretty bad, the BaseStar was no gem either. It was relatively OK for surface detail on the tops and bottom sides of the saucer sections, but the vertical surfaces for the central core were quite visibly blank. Another issue was the overall shape. From simple height to width ratios, the saucer sections appear too tall for their width. Regarding the height to width of the saucer sections, I’m still debating how worthwhile that is. In sum, the areas I choose for improvement were:
1) The outer launch bay trench “bridge”
2) The central column lack of details
This page details what I did, the results, and some of the aftermath of creating those detail parts. An essential tool was the release of the complete BSG OS on DVD—all the screen caps below are from that set. While making these improvements, I had to be aware of how much detail I could add. This kit has serious draft angle issues, and these limit how much detail the overall kit has. With the amount of detail I can get by freeze framing and zooming in on a good DVD shot, I could easily find and build a ton of detail into the upgrades. If I did that, though, it would have outdone the detail on the rest of the kit and looked odd on the kit. On the plus side, there is a lot of detail I can create using scribed geometric designs and simple geometric shapes cut from sheet styrene, or from scrap tank/airplane parts like the studio model was built from.
First, the basic geometry of the BaseStar. It consists of 2 stacked, flattened saucers each with 5 distinct, repeating trench sections. Viewed from the top, this present a starfish like or spoke pattern.
In usage, the outer 10 trenches (5 top and 5
bottom) are used for launching the iconic (if somewhat slow and ponderous) Cylon Raiders. The inner
trenches were used for recovery of the fighters, assuming any returned.
Aside from the 4 saucer halves, the kit has two detail pieces per outer launching trench. The first is a small wedge shaped piece at the hub, which I left pretty much alone. The second is a bridge like piece near the rim of the saucer, circled above. The "bridge" was the first thing I tackled. After extensive viewing of the few detail scene shot (along with numerous screen grabs) I was able to identify a number of places where the kit part was fairly crude compared to the studio model. Here's a short list of the kit bridge issues. To keep it simple, my directional references are based on looking at the top saucer in from the outer edge.
Another few screen grabs to highlight the studio details:
Using the kit bridge as a template, I scratch built newer, more accurate bridges based on DVD screenshots. A few details were scavenged from the kit parts (essentially the three grid boxes), but over 90% of the replacement is scratch. The master was used to make an RTV mold, and copies were cast.
Next on my list was the blank central column. Again, and like the Galactica kit, vertical surfaces on the saucer interior are the victim of draft angle problems and are completely smooth. This area cries out most for attention; even if the other parts I'm fixing are poorly detailed, at least there is detail! The blank areas are highly visible, and that part of the ship has some fairly cool details, like hangar bay doors and some big cannon/missile launcher thing. I’ve had 3 of these kits, and the joint between the top and bottom saucers is usually warped, especially on older kits. Something had to be done...
My method for fixing this was to make a blank piece of styrene that fit the jagged outline between saucers, and then I added detail as I saw it from the screen caps.
I designed the parts to not only fill in detail but to cover up and fix the between-saucer seam. This resulted in a plate for the trench end wall (note hangar door near the narrow end), and 2 "belt" pieces to cover any gaps between the top and bottom end plates or the saucers. These parts were completely scratch built based on DVD screenshots. The parts were cast back in the days before I was more skilled at resin copies—those air bubbles would not be there today.
This constituted three pieces. First, an “end of the canyon” trapezoid piece, which included the hangar door. The other two pieces were the belt pieces, seen very clearly in the above screen cap. The results are shown below.
I originally did this work back in the 2004-2005 timeframe. The original Monogram molds had been picked up by Revell, which decided to do a 30th anniversary re-release of the original Monogram kits. It turns out my detail parts, among others, attracted the attention of Revell, which used them as masters for new detail parts in the 30th anniversary edition kit. The end result is I was credited in the 2008 re-release of the kit as contributing to the updated kit (itty bitty print on the bottom right)!
Here are the new detail parts. Revell stepped up their game on the re-issue. As can be seen, there were some concessions to injection molding versus what I could do in resin—three parts combined to one, detail flattened out. The bridge pieces are most direct copies of my masters…
…and they still left this part hollow, though it is now correctly inset.
Here are some shots of the parts I didn’t work on, which are definitely nice improvements, including a whole new mega pulse cannon thingy. The older parts are in that hideous metallic tinted plastic.