Saturday, February 2, 2019

She's not made of paper, Captain!

. . . except when she is. Paper is, in fact, the structural material of the sturdy little Genet VT-3 Pinzgauer.

You've probably seen this in the background of some of my pictures before, which is where it's really intended to go, but it deserves at least a moment in the sun. This build largely overlaps with the MB-1377 StarLifter Rainbow Connection. I think I started the StarLifter first, but that took a long time in gestation and I wanted something faster, so I turned to paper models. This was to be an experiment. The first part of the build went quickly enough to use as a set piece in some photography in late 2017. (So far so good.) But as things are wont to go, I got distracted and turned to shinier things and this sat. Long enough, in fact, that I lost parts. (Which is no big deal when they're made of paper.) But after I finished Rainbow Connection I decided I really needed to put the tail end on the Pinzgauer and finish the last details. Before I get into the nitty gritty of how this works let me expound a little on the model.

The Pinzgauer seems a clear reference to Battlestar Galactica. The general arrangement and proportions of the ship are very close to the original series shuttle. The sigil on the side of the default paint version is quite close to the new series symbol. It's simplified for ease of construction. (More on that later.) But really, it's not too bad at all. Even the original was pretty boxy. But what of the name, you say? Well, apart from being a breed of Austrian draught horse it's also apparently the name of a line of high-mobility trucks. Absurdly boxy things, even. Altogether a good heritage for a utility cargo shuttle, I'd say. Who knew?

Now, back to the build. As I said, this was an experiment. I probably worked faster than I should have. More care and a more forgiving glue than the CA+ that I impatiently insist on using for . . . everything . . . might have helped. But you know what? It worked. And here's the neat thing about paper models: You really have to pay attention to structure. That sturdy thing at the beginning isn't really a joke. The thing is well enough engineered (with beams and braces and gusset plates) that it actually holds together. It doesn't feel like it will fold up in the first breeze. It's still paper. You can crush it. (Or dent it. Or bend it.) It will flex. Much like a real airplane. But there's real structure in there. And there are void spaces galore where real systems would actually fit. That's kind of neat, really. I don't know that I'd engineer my ship so that the entire belly of the thing would become a giant elevator to lower things to the ground, but at least then you'd know the doors were properly locked. (Would help to avoid the kinds of disasters that befell the DC-10, C-5, and 747 when the sudden depressurization from doors that only looked closed broke important parts.) Of course, it does mean I can't so easily actually put a model inside the thing and leave it there, but that's a small complaint, really. It's primary function is to LOOK like it can carry something. It's quite good enough when that something fits.

I said they're fairly sturdy because of their internal structure, but as a result they do take a little longer to build than you might guess. There's nothing especially complicated. It's all cutting, folding, and gluing. Nothing fancy. But there's a lot of it. There are fully 42 ANSI A letter sized pages of printed parts. The thing is almost a novella. That's a lot of parts to cut out. And there are some complex and persnickety folds. Nothing truly origami grade, but still plenty of it. That's what makes it hold together and look halfway neat. What's more, I suspect you could make the things quite a bit sturdier still by building them from cardstock, which you could then paint and detail. At that point it might even be a serious foreground grade model. Even as is I think it's not bad, but I'll let you judge.

Note please that the boarding ramp actually holds a small metal miniature. And the cargo elevator is staying up with yet another such miniature sitting mostly on it. (And did with the miniature fully on it as well, though I've no photographic evidence of that. It just got too dark in the bay.)

And here's some proof that a small armored vehicle really will fit. Smaller early Imperial marks just make it inside the hoist legs. (APCs, tank destroyers, light support, that sort of thing. Nothing too hefty. You're not getting a Land Raider in there.)

I do cheat and use a small piece of tape to hold the chin up. I think if my build were more precise it would probably stay up on its own, but that is one of the weak features. The pedestrian ramp doesn't stay closed well and the chin doesn't stay up. And it's a touch weak at the rear away from the folds. (Which I solved by adding in a piece of cardscock as reinforcement. Much like you might reinforce a real vehicle when you realized the manufacturer's design had a spot prone to trouble.) So the verdict: it's not quite as quick as I would have hoped, but it looks good and works better than I expected. And the price was fantastic. The plans are free, so all it costs is time and materials. Paper. Not bad! Genet Models actually has a whole line of stuff. Check them out. They have plenty of other fun and free paper things to keep you building.

The Composer