As usual I
decided to build my model to studio-size, this is
because I'm building the other Captain Scarlet
vehicles at that scale and it allows me to use
some of the same parts that were used on the
original, which is always a big time saver. I
figured the size to be 22 inches long, the
telltale measurements come from the toy wheels on
the rear and the fact that the Spectrum roundel's
are 1&1/2 inch wide.
The Build .. by David Sisson
My usual approach
to building models is to start by drawing up a
blueprint and then create a master pattern. On
the left is the start of my first SPV model,
built back in the late 1980s, formed by
assembling layers of Balsa wood. However on this
model I ended up using a different approach.
consists of two basic problems, firstly actually
being able to physically produce all the parts
and then of course making sure that these parts
are actually as accurate as possible. People
often seem to fail in one department, with the
model either being well built but inaccurate, or
looking accurate but made poorly from
sub-standard materials; if they are really
unlucky they will fail in both areas! The
construction challenge is usually so large that
mistakes are bound to happen, compromises occur
and you end up with a model that you refer to as
'version 1' and then have to start again and
build a revised second model, and sometimes more.
The SPV is a
series of curves on curves, that make it one of
the more complex craft to recreate. While I've
seen many replicas over the years I have never
really seen a true copy of it and I feared that I
too would end up with a replica that failed to
live up to my high expectations.
The model was already going to take me a long
time to build and the idea that I would then have
to build another to fix the faults was
off-putting. The big problem is that you are
starting from zero and it's not until you have
the final 3-dimensional object in front of your
eyes that you can tell if it's correct. So what
if you start with another model to begin with?
As I began this project I was
given another SPV replica to complete. The model
had been built by a friend, Kevin Pedley, and had
been sold as an unfinished project. My job was
simply to add missing details, including an
interior, and then paint.
Overall the model looked very good and the
engineering work in the chassis was brilliant.
However while I thought some areas were very good
there were others that I wasn't happy with at
all, partly due to the fact that the model was
undersized for my requirements. I remember
thinking if only I could move the parts around it
could be brilliant, so I started to make a list
of changes that I would like to make.
I then took two
plaster casts (left & right) of the main
model and made a copy using a very large amount
of polyester car filler. These two halves were
superglued together and cemented to a 1/2 inch
sheet of chipboard with yet another large pile of
filler. This rough shape gave me a good starting
point to start sculpting, a blueprint was not
drawn for this project as all measurements were
done directly on the sculpture, working out the
positions in 3-dimensions not on paper.
The next stage was
to drill and cut the body into sections allowing
me to reposition the parts to my own plan.
Firstly the lower hull areas, over the wheels,
were cut away and repositioned to make the model
wider - this was done by gluing the parts to a
second board and again filling the gaps. Next the
front area was cut off and extended to make the
model longer with the bits glued to a third board
- to help here a section of the upper hull had to
be removed and added back in later, in a revised
So began a long
process of sculpting and sanding to achieve the
shape I wanted. Panel lines, especially the
doors, were constantly drawn onto the surface to
act as a guide while countless minor
modifications were made. The filler made an ideal
material to shape but sometimes it was too easy
and keeping the shape symmetrical was more
difficult without the usual internal bulkheads
and wood layers.
The flared wheel covers were added using wood
strip and sealed with a coating of epoxy resin.
Spray filler was regularly applied as a single
colour always helps you to visualise the final
The top inlet and dorsal section was left off at
this stage as I needed to raise the roofline. It
was made as a separate section that could be
added to the final model, and cover part of the
join line between the two body halves.
After many months
I finally decided that the shape was good enough
and it was time to move on to the next stage, but
I still wasn't totally convinced. I again took
two plaster moulds of the master and cast up the
halves in fibreglass, trying to keep them
reasonably thin. As I still wasn't happy with
some of the curves on the front end I put filler
into the moulds first, which would allow me the
option of later reshaping.
The two sections
were superglued together and adhesive tape was
run over the join, then resin and strips of
fibreglass matting were added to the inside to
create a solid one-piece shell. At the same time
an internal bulkhead was added to stiffen the
body. The rear panel was made from plastic
sheeting and blended into the body with filler
and the side door was drilled out and removed.
Due to the use of
plaster moulds I had to blank off the two intake
areas on the master or they would have created an
undercut preventing the release of the pattern.
As a result these two sections now had to be
drilled out and formed using filler and plastic
doors are obviously supposed to work only the
right one did on the original model (and the
toys) so I too copied this feature. Here the door
opening has been carefully filed to shape then
the edges covered in clear adhesive tape. The
door was then put back in place and the gaps
filled. It could then be prised out and sanded
smooth; more filler was then applied to give the
door its bulkier finish.
After a great deal
of work the model was primed and I thought I was
ready to finally paint it, when it dawned on me
that the front wasn't quite right and the sides
could still do with a bit more work.
As I build models I hold the model in one hand,
close one eye and then move it around to try and
get it to match up to classic photographs of the
original studio versions. If I can't get the
various lines and angles to intersect at the
right points then something's wrong and here the
front didn't seem long enough and the headlight
areas also seemed to be at a different angle. The
big giveaway was that the Spectrum symbol seemed
to take up too much space; I needed another 3 or
4mm of bonnet space.
Going backwards is always hard, when you are
building something there is always that drive to
carry on and finish the project, but if you don't
fix your mistakes they will always bug you. So
the bumper was cut away and the front extended,
with the surrounding areas being reworked and the
headlight facings angled forward more.
One big feature of
the SPV is that it is covered in heavy panel
lines, not the usual drawn on versions but actual
groves. I was slightly concerned about doing this
and possibly making a complete mess of the model,
the thought of just drawing them on was very
appealing but it would not have looked the same.
With the model again primed I carefully drew the
positions of these lines and proceeded to cut
them in. I started by just running a sharp blade
over the surface then moved on to use a fine saw
blade to deepen the line. Then I took a broken
hacksaw blade, filed the end down to get a finer
edge, and used this to get the final grove.
With the model now
ready for painting I added the shark-fin to the
roof, I'd left it off for a while, as I wanted to
minimise the risk of damaging it. The body was
now reprimed and painted using Zircon Blue
metallic motorcar paint - which now seems to be
the recognised proper colour.
I had finished painting the model I had to admit
that the panel lines now looked too big and too
deep in places - bugger! Backwards modelling
again as I had to sand down and fill many of the
lines in, to reduce their overall appearance.
Again the model was primed and spray painted.
This time the panel lines looked great - the
paint finish however was utter rubbish! For some
reason the paint had gone on very roughly, I
believe the correct term is an 'orange peel'
effect. A friend suggested rubbing the paint down
with very fine wet & dry paper and Brasso
polish or T-Cut. This worked very well but I put
too much effort into it and the paint wore away
completely in places.
Still the resulting paint did look ultra smooth,
in fact it looked just like the smooth paint
finish on the original SPV model, so after yet
another repaint I ended up T-cutting the final