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Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed

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Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed The ship will look like this. BLOCKADE RUNNER NOT INCLUDED! Note that this is test-fit for this photo - the pieces should be glued tightly, thus eliminating the gaps. 
Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed The ship will look like this. BLOCKADE RUNNER NOT INCLUDED! Note that this is test-fit for this photo - the pieces should be glued tightly, thus eliminating the gaps. 

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Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed The cockpit and the reverse cone of the neck. Note this is an earlier model with slightly different scribe lines from the final model
Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed The cockpit and the reverse cone of the neck. Note this is an earlier model with slightly different scribe lines from the final model

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Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed Here are the parts
Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed Here are the parts

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Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed Trim off the Bandai cockpit so that it looks like this. You'll need to cut extremely carefully!
Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed Trim off the Bandai cockpit so that it looks like this. You'll need to cut extremely carefully!

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Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed Left: the cockpit details with the corridor fan in place. Right: the fan has been removed, revealing the John Barry corridor
Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed Left: the cockpit details with the corridor fan in place. Right: the fan has been removed, revealing the John Barry corridor

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Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed
Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000 3d printed

DIGITAL PREVIEW
Not a Photo

Solo’s Pirate Ship mods, Bandai 1:1000

$15.16
Ships as soon as 6 days
3D printed in matte translucent plastic that showcases incredibly fine and intricate details.
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Product Description
So you’ve got yourself a Bandai Spirits Blockade Runner, Vehicle Kit 014. For the first time in history there’s a commercial model kit of this iconic spacecraft that opens Episode IV. Very cool!

But if you’re familiar with the history of this space saga, you’d know that Han Solo’s original planned “pirate ship” was actually the ship we know today as the Blockade Runner, only with a different cockpit and radar dish.

Weeks before live action filming began in 1976, George Lucas decided to ditch this linear shape. Solo’s ship was turned into a saucer designed by Joe Johnston, and named the Millennium Falcon. Thriftily the former Pirate Ship model was recycled into Leia’s Blockade Runner, later known as the Tantive IV.

Want to see photos of, and more information about, the Pirate Ship? I have a few way over here.

What if?

But - what if the saucer-shaped Falcon hadn’t happened? What if Solo’s vessel had remained the original linear “pirate ship” design with its conical cockpit and round dish? Well, here’s your chance to make a model of a future that never was!

This product contains most of the pieces you need to transform the Bandai Spirits 014 Blockade Runner into an original Pirate Ship! I’ve even created a fully lightable cockpit based on the original model, since that miniature was quite different from the movie’s interior set. And it's all sprued together in an odd shape to lower printing costs.

Awesome!

Cockpit and reverse cone.

The original Pirate Ship cockpit was basically a truncated cone with windows. This component was eventually removed and transferred to the final saucer-shaped Falcon model, which is why it looks the same! Here’s a mini version of that cone, designed to fit the Bandai kit.

However, the Pirate Ship was retrofitted with the Blockade Runner's hammerhead cockpit, which meant that two cylindrical notches were cut into the reverse cone “neck” that’s behind the original cockpit. These notches are a pain to fill and fix on the tiny Bandai kit. To make it easier for you I’ve designed a complete replacement neck.

The upper starboard side of the neck has panel scribe details modelled after photos of the original Pirate Ship published in the Japanese Star Wars Chronicles book. The only photo of the port side that I know of is kind of out of focus, and you can't see all the scribe lines. So that side has lines modelled after the existing Blockade Runner instead. Maybe that's a mistake, but I thought the lack of symmetry was kind of interesting.

Neck installation

To install this part you’ll need to cut off the existing cockpit and part of the neck, while preserving the upper ridge that runs along the top. (see photo) Make sure some of the plastic of the upper ridge extends down past the join with the neck.

From what I can see from surviving photos, there was no matching lower ridge on the pirate ship, whereas the Blockade Runner has tall ridges top and bottom. You will also need to trim some of the material in the middle of the join so that the projecting cylinder of the reverse cone can fit neatly inside and be glued in place.

The surgery required on the Bandai parts is quite delicate, and difficult to do with a knife. I recommend a fine razor saw instead. The JLC razor saw is particularly suitable, since it has a super-thin blade. The 20 teeth/cm side is best. I wouldn’t use an X-acto type razor saw as it’s pretty thick and removes a lot of material.

Complicating matters is the interior for the corridor that I designed will require some trimming back of the Bandai plastics. See the section on the corridor below.

Top ridge.

The upper ridge on the Blockade Runner is actually quite detailed and covered in fine greeblies. The Pirate Ship version was sparsely decorated by comparison, so for accuracy you would need to shave some of those off and file it mostly smooth. As noted above, the photos of the Pirate Ship seem to show a model with no lower ridge. However I don’t have definitive proof of this.

Incidentally another unknown is whether the cockpit front cone had a larger diameter than the reverse cone of the neck. Existing photos suggest it did by a tiny amount, but it seems there was a dark ring separating the two sections, giving the effect of a larger front cone. I’ve elected for a slightly larger front section. I've also put a wedge of plastic inside the cockpit cone to help protect the super-delicate window bars in shipment. This wedge does not touch the cockpit - it's only attached to the sprue at the bottom.

Also note that the Pirate ship had a protruding antenna thingie on the starboard side, facing forward. This could be done with a thin piece of wire.

Cockpit interior.

The original Pirate Ship cockpit interior was a bit weird. It had only two seats in it, with side by side consoles resembling giant CRTs. There were angular boxy bits around the back. In short, this interior design didn’t look anything like the full-sized movie set used in the final film.

Since we're going for the Pirate Ship look, here’s my replica of this original cockpit design. This cockpit was, incidentally, transferred directly to the five foot saucer design of the Falcon and stays there to this day!

Thanks to JoeCS from the RPF for assistance in determining some of the more complex internal geometry of the backwall. Note that the cone sidewall details are a bit simplified, partly because source photos are hard to come by, and partly because the small size of the pieces makes them hard to 3D-print.

Installing the cockpit interior requires a lot of care. I would strongly recommend that you try dry fitting the parts before gluing it down. In particular, if you glue the cockpit interior in the wrong location it will prevent you from gluing the cone on the end, so test carefully!


Internal corridor.

Since the corridor behind the cockpit door is just visible through that door, I thought I'd put in a couple of options for filling it out. They are the fan and the John Barry corridor. So, what are those?

Corridor Fan.


Well if you were to look at the five foot Falcon miniature today, and peer down into its cockpit, you'd see a round thing back in the corridor area. From what I can tell from photos, this was a cooling fan that was used to control the heat from the cockpit lighting during filming.

So if you were to look at the model I've made you'll see a round disc right back there. Paint this black and silver, and you've got a fan!

John Barry's corridor.

But alternatively, what if you wanted your corridor to look like the preliminary sketches drawn by Episode IV set designer John Barry? There's a surviving drawing of the Pirate Ship interior, featuring a long linear cylindrical hallway with padded rings. These rings made their way to the final set, only the corridors were curved tubes, of course.


Anyway. I've put some "cushion rings" behind the "fan" part in the corridor. So if you want that look, simply snip the fan out using sprue cutters. The rings are made in decreasing size as a sort of forced perspective gimmick. However, you will find that the top of the rings collides with the bottom of the Bandai top ridge plastics. You'll need to trim down the Bandai plastics very carefully to clear the rings.

Finally, there's one big problem with these details, and that is that the Barry-style corridor rings totally get in the way of installing LEDs. It's just too crowded back there. So you will probably need to go with the "fan" corridor option, and snip out the corridor rings using a sprue cutter.


Lighting.

The cockpit interior contains numerous holes and channels for 0.25mm fibre optics. You can wire “nano” (wired SMD) LEDs beneath the seats and behind the “fan” to drive these fibres for extra fun. Or just fill them with clear varnish or white paint if you don’t want to light them.

Note that some of the tunnels, such as the ones leading to the CRT consoles, are bent or curved sharply, and so the fibres must be threaded very carefully. Be sure to clean the light openings with hot water and a fine wire before installing the fibres. Because of the extreme size you may need to drill out some holes using a carbide drill.

There are two spots for 0.25mm fibres in the side consoles inside the cockpit cone. The idea here is to thread the fibres in (you have to bend them pretty sharply) and feed them into the two holes on the underside of the cockpit interior. They can then be lit by LEDs behind the backwall. However, this is extremely difficult to work on owing to the size of the cone, and it's really easy to break things. So don't try to tackle these lights unless you're really careful and experienced!

Radar dish.

The Pirate Ship had a circular radar dish with a long protruding central spike made mostly from the escape tower from an Airfix Apollo 11 model kit. This dish was transferred to the five foot Falcon to save the model makers time, and in the process the spike was removed. A replacement rectangular radar dish was made for the Blockade Runner instead. (which later served as the inspiration for the Falcon’s replacement dish in the Force Awakens)

Here’s a tiny round dish for your Pirate Ship fun. It’s basically modelled after the one on the five foot Falcon except I've included the long central spike. Because of the fragility of the tiny print I’ve added a long tube to protect the spike during printing and shipping. Cut off the top horizontal sprue carefully, then lift the protective cylinder upwards off the dish. If you don't lift the cylinder vertically up off the dish you'll probably snap off the spike!

I've also made the dish in two parts so you can put it into whatever angle you want. However, this means it's really delicate to work with. In particular, the sprue goes directly into the back of the dish itself. The reason I did so is because it's just too easy to break the dish mount if you put the sprue there. By contrast, you snip the sprue as closely to the surface of the dish as you can, then gently file off any remaining stump using a needle file.

Finally, what about the Bandai 1:350 Millennium Falcon? Couldn't you simply transplant the dish that comes with that model (the non-TFA model that is) and slap it on your Blockade Runner model? Sure, you could. But it'd be roughly 80% of the correct size, and the Bandai dish mount is just a wedge of plastic, not a frame. But it's obviously up to you!

Escape pods.

The original Pirate Ship has four domes on the top that represented the escape pods described in the script. However when the ship was recycled as the Blockade Runner the dome size didn’t make any sense. Accordingly, eight smaller domes and rings were installed on the underside, with empty areas representing the pods that had been launched.

When this happened the four upper domes were turned into cannon turrets. However the Pirate Ship upper pods also had small conical rocket bells sticking out, which should be modelled for accuracy. But because these bells are so tiny and hard to print, and because sawing off the Bandai domes is difficult without damaging the existing plastics, I have not made replacement escape pods. This is an exercise left for the reader.

In-flight version.

This set is for reproducing the Pirate Ship in flight only. I haven’t modelled the landing gear that was made for the original miniature, primarily because it would be so tiny as to be unprintable if it were remotely to scale. Any landing gear legs would have to be noticeably thickened.

Still, if there’s interest I might make a set of legs and the skinny little boarding ramp. There is reasonable photographic documentation of the front landing gear, though less for the rear legs. The Pirate Ship miniature’s legs were quite different from the angled ones shown in the McQuarrie paintings, incidentally.

How big is this ship?

Well, scale and size in SF movies is all pretty arbitrary and fluid. But the Pirate Ship was clearly meant to be a much smaller ship than the Blockade Runner was. The BR was meant to be fairly large, as the long corridors filled with Rebels in Episode IV clearly show.

Now, acording to Bandai their model is 1/1000 scale. But the cockpit cone on the BR kit is about 1.25x times the diameter of the cockpit cone of their 1/350 Falcon kit. So. If these dimensions are remotely accurate, whatever that means, then the Pirate Ship is 1/280 in scale. Maybe.



Please read the following if you're interested in these items.

These accurizing parts are not mass-market commercial products. I made them for my own use, and have put them here in case they're of interest to someone else. Possibly you, since you’re reading this.

These are components for the serious model maker who wants to build a detailed miniature. They require finishing. If you don't want to trim, file, sand, and glue, then these aren't the parts you're looking for!

The parts are tiny, and easily broken. They push the limits of today's 3D printers. The detail in the digital previews is all there, but it won't always be visible at the miniscule sizes that this scale requires!
Details
What's in the box:
Pirate Ship Mods
Dimensions:
2.15 x 2.1 x 1.43 cm
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0.85 x 0.83 x 0.56 inches
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Success Rate:
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Rating:
Mature audiences only.
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