Jason Eaton

Sometimes my arms bend back

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Wonderfest 2011

Here’s my delayed Wonderfest report! I have spent the past week catching up on work, sleep, and the pollen in Maryland is so bad right now, that my allergies have rendered me a shell of the man that I was. So thank you for being patient!

Wonderfest. What can I say? Meeting people I have known (sometimes for many many years online) in real life was a true treat. It’s rare that you can hit it off so instantly with a crew of people, and it truly felt like a little family by the time the weekend was over – everyone seemed genuinely sad to see each other go! Mike Salzo – a true artisan who does not realize how talented he really is. (that actually goes for all of these guys, to be honest). Kevin Witte – one of the RPF’s greatest Admins, and enthusiastic X-Wing miniature encyclopedia. Quincy Cutshaw – a modeler born with that exacting eye for detail that comes from being an engineer, and our local expert on eateries – he never steered us wrong! Sean Sides – nicer than Santa Claus, and the only guy with the balls to make the Galactica and all of the rag tag fleet and make it seem effortless. Charles Adams – a fellow modeler not afraid to share information, and had the distinction of being the mellowest-yet-simultaneously-over-enthusiastic guy in a room full of wound up nerds. Rick Ingalsbe – the man responsible for a few of our model-making brethren being featured in the film 5-25-77, ace Star Destroyer modeler, and another super-nice guy. Rob McFarlane – the living embodiment of 1960s cool – if he was a watch, he’d be an Accutron Spaceview. Jeff Waclawski – my WF travel companion, talented SLA man, and a great friend. Kip Hart – the biggest personality in the room, with a great ability to tell it like it is – and an ACE 3D file artist. Greg Watson – you were there in spirit, ya bastard!! Ryan Comer – you too, brotha! And last but soooo not least, Gene Kozicki – this guy has more cred in his pinkie than I do in my entire body, and is somehow more sarcastic than me as well – I am in awe of his generosity with what he shares with the community, and was the reason we got to bask in the glory of two of Hollywood’s ace model gods.

So I woke up at 4AM on Thursday and packed everything into the trailer so that we were on the road by 5am. The trip to Louisville was relatively uneventful, and we arrived around 4pm, and hung out with Kip and Sean in Jeff’s room as people trickled in. Mike and Kevin showed up shortly thereafter, we met up with Gene and Rob that night in the bar, and Lorne Peterson and Pat McClung joined us all! Lorne Peterson is of course one of the two longest running employees at ILM, who recently retired after 33 years in the business. He has the distinction of having worked on all six Star Wars films, all three Indiana Jones films, and so many more. Pat McClung also worked on ESB and is probably best known for being the fella behind all of the classic Aliens models – the Sulaco? Yeah, he built that!! The highlight for me was when everyone traipsed up to my room, and checked out the models we brought to display. Having Lorne see my Escape Pod was surreal – he built the original! And Pat was bemused to see the Probe Droid pods that he “banged out in 45 minutes” – I agonized over them for MONTHS!

Friday was spent setting up the Studio Scale display, helping Jeff set up the tables in the vendor area, and dinner with everyone again – everyone else had trickled in, and we were a TEAM. Over the rest of the weekend, I got to see a large section of the film 5-25-77, met many new friendly faces, rekindled friendships with the classic attendees, saw some absolutely top notch model work in the contest room, and was sorely tempted by many products in the vendors room. It was truly the most successful Wonderfest yet, professionally and socially. Thanks again to everyone mentioned above, as well as Dave Conover and Brian Ludden, who are responsible for the easy set ups and break downs at the show, as well as for inviting me and everyone else to showcase our builds.

So Monday morning, Jeff and I woke at 4am to get on the road by 5 – that would put us back in Baltimore my 3:30 pm, and I was to have a nice relaxing transition into the house, and then go to dinner with Lisa. However, about two hours or so into the trip into rural West Virginia (we had breezed out of Kentucky), Jeff’s truck suffered a catastrophic failure – we thought it was the transmission! With the help of my trusty iPhone, I determined we were 5 miles West of Milton WV, which turned out to be a super small but VERY helpful town. A tow truck was sent, and the problem was quickly diagnosed as most likely being a failure of the Durango’s transfer case, which is the 4 wheel drive brain/hub. Since he couldn’t tow the Durango safely, the driver (Carlos) called for a flatbed trailer. Bear in mind the truck is FILLED with six very fragile, large, and expensive Studio Scale models. Not too long after calling for back up, Carlos towed the trailer, and the other fella towed the Durango to Harrisonburg, which was a demoralizing 20 minutes back the way we came. We were taken to a transmission shop, and Jeff then had to rent a gigantic U-Haul truck as it was the only thing available with a ball hitch. We unpacked, repacked, and got back on the road. Fourteen hours later, we were home – weary, tired, frazzled – but safe. Not a model was harmed, amazingly. And as of this writing, Jeff has his truck back, in perfect working order.

Next year, I’m flying there.

Thanks for reading, and again – Greg, you were there in spirit, man. We missed you!

For the Twitter pics I uploaded live from last weekend, Click here!

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Battlestar Galactica Antique Viper Gallery

This is the finished model, which I chronicled building here and patterning here!

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Battlestar Galactica Antique Viper Kit – the build!

This is the build diary for the Antique Viper that I patterned for Mike Salzo. He molded and cast the parts in an incredibly short time, and the quality of the castings are magnificent – I highly recommend you get one! This post will be updated as I work on the build, so check back often!

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Battlestar Galactica Antique Viper Pattern a la MCA-57 (aka – ILM)

I have just finished the master pattern for a Studio Scale kit. What does that mean, exactly? Well, Studio Scale refers to any filming miniature that was built my a movie studio for special effects work, and can really be any scale. In this particular case, we have all come to the consensus (nerds online, that is) that the Vipers from the original Battlestar Galactica were 1/24th in scale. Since this exceedingly rare variant was based on many pre-existing Viper parts, it too is 1:24th-ish. So, why “exceedingly rare”? Well, in 1978, the special effects department/crew landscape became very fluid for a couple of months. After Star Wars was released (and started swelling in popularity), the team that created the models (ILM) were not immediately tasked with any projects. In this lull, they began work on Battlestar Galactica miniatures and effects shots, apparently under the name MCA-57. In late Summer, ILM was told that the team was “getting back together” for The Empire Strikes Back, and moving facilities North to San Rafael. Battlestar materials were transported to another shop named Universal Hartland, which finished the series (along with Buck Rogers and Galactica 1980). When the move happened, the Antique Viper was LOST and another had to be constructed!!

The Antique Viper (alternately known as the Sixth Millennia Viper and Model T Viper) was built for the episode “The Long Patrol”. Since it was lost in the move it was never filmed, and only a half dozen photos exist of this particular prop, and these were not taken as reference material. This is why you see a rough-around-the-edges Antique Viper out there, that shares even more lineage to an original Viper casting – Universal Hartland had to construct a replacement! This replacement Antique Viper has been sold at auction, and has been very well documented – but I digress.

The original Antique Viper bewitched myself and a few others who love to spend all of their waking hours trying to ID parts for these silly things. One of these people is Mike Salzo, who had recently recreated the classic Viper in studio scale from cleaner parts and correct measurements, putting all of the “cast and recast and re-recast from an original foam casting” kits to shame. Until Mike’s “Hero” kit, we had undersized lumpy, wonky, and soft Vipers on our display shelves. Now we had a big sexy sharp Viper, and of course wanted MORE. So when Mike and I struck a deal for me to create a pattern of the Antique, I chose the original – the HERO! Sadly there have been a few compromises that impact it’s accuracy – we could not ID all of the parts used because there just was not any reference available. Sections were not documented well (or in focus), and angles are missing. We had ONE shot of the back, but it was at such an oblique angle that some of the “way back” detail between the two engines is impossible to identify. So what you have is a compromise – I made some of this up, but it will be cast in a way that should better reference ever surface, the model maker could swap out the stuff I made and use the correct plastic bits and bobs. Until that day, here’s my take on the Hero Antique Viper!

posted by Roboterkampf in Battlestar Galactica Models,Scale Models and have Comments (2)

Micro Viper!!

A buddy of mine just dropped off a miniature Mk.II Viper that was grown to scale with the Studio Scale Colonial Movers! I’m going to build mine as seen in the first season “Hand of God” episode, with a squadron of Vipers in one of the containers!

posted by Roboterkampf in Battlestar Galactica Models,Scale Models and have Comment (1)

Battlestar Galactica Advanced Cylon Raider

This is the gorgeous 1:24 Advanced Cylon Raider from Battlestar Galactica, which was offered by Bad Azz Models. This model has been made in the same scale as the original series’ Viper model, so people have agreed that the new series models made in 1:24th scale can be referred to as “Studio Scale”. This was a perfectly engineered model that just flew together, then finished in a half-dozen shades of Allclad metallic paints.

posted by Roboterkampf in Battlestar Galactica Models,Scale Models and have No Comments

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