Model Review: Bandai 1/12 Stormtrooper Kit

I don’t know if this will become a regular series, but I really like the looks, feel, build-process and design for these models, so who knows if I’ll buy more in the future. I own a few Gundams, but many were treated horribly (by me, that’s what happens when buying model kits for a twelve-year-old who’s likely to bash them about in battle with his Star Wars figures) so are now broken beyond having any display or play value. That said, I did buy a fairly nice one for a tenner recently just to go with all the other various items on display in my room (many Lego sets among them, obviously), so we’ll have to see whether or not this segment becomes a repeated thing.

Star Wars and sci-fi are at this point absolutely the summation of my interests, and of all the designs for the various ships, armour, weapons and characters across all the different works I’ve come into contact with over the years, none are more iconic than the stormtrooper. I therefore thought it best, when I discovered the model kit and also the fact that it was only eighteen quid with free delivery, that I finally purchased a proper version of a member of the Empire’s unyielding legion of ground troops.

The Good:

  • Articulation is insane, owing to the wonderful combination of soft and hard plastic parts which actually fit with the stormtrooper in canon, with their leather under-armour.
  • No gluing is a welcome respite from Warhammer 40k which I used to collect, all of which have a dirty great splodge of glue leaking from their neck and shoulders like some sort of horrific, pus-filled wound. The snap together design even allows for some extra posing options, seeing as you can slide the joints slightly apart for a tad more manoeuvrability.
  • The way the black parts really are beneath the armour as the bodyglove would be adds a depth which I would expect kits from lesser companies do not include.
  • Very dark green transparent visor is greatly appreciated.
  • Paint sticks to it like glue, and it may just be the paints themselves (more on that in the additional section below) but anything I put on dried almost instantly.
  • Was incredibly nervous about the stickers, but they went on smooth as anything despite their small size, and were not affected by the dampness of the wash (again, see below for details).
  • The inclusion of all three weapons is amazing, as I’m very accessory-oriented in my opinions of sets like this, and discovering the blaster pistol that I have to admit I thought only death troopers utilised was a nice surprise.

To be Improved:

  • Some coloured detailing already included on the figure would be nice, but I suppose as they’re just mould-injected plastic (or whatever they are) on sprues, I imagine this is a manufacturing impossibility. The decals themselves are very good, as mentioned above, and you can just paint the figures yourself which made me feel so much like I was having a thirty-years-too-early midlife crisis it was unreal, though it was still super fun.
  • If this isn’t the tiniest (literally) complaint on this site, I don’t know what is. There’s a millimetre wide blue button decal that goes on his stomach panel, and this didn’t stay down flush with the rounded plastic so is just sitting on top of it. However, it still stayed on, despite having a wash go down on top of it, so not many complaints in terms of how strong the glue is!
  • Two fisted hands instead of just the one would also have been great, as they included enough trigger hands for him to be ambidextrous so should probably have added another fist, too. That said, we do get a nice pointing hand, though the finger on this is far too long compared to the rest of the hand so it just ends up looking weird.
  • Some joints are a little looser than I’d like them to be but I’m sure this is only limited to this specific model.

Additional Section – Painting Process:

For this kit, I used Citadel Paints from Games Workshop because there’s a fairly solid range of different types and colours, and because they’re also relatively cheap when only buying one or two different colours. I bought Nuln Oil (a dark grey wash for bringing out fine detail), Blood for the Blood God (a personal favourite, I wonder if you can guess what it was used for), Abaddon Black which is a standard super dark black that I used for scuffing and scratches, some sort of tan for weathering (there are about ten different types and I just chose the one I liked the look of), and a thinner for making the wash lighter. I also managed to dig out my old Warhammer paints including a brown which was all dried up but still allowed me to drybrush on some mud, and Boltgun Metal which was a dark silver that, again, I was easily able to drybrush, this time onto the weapons. I used a fine detail brush for stippling scuff marks and doing nice flicky scratches, then loaded a brush with Blood for the Blood God and flicked it at the figure with my finger. I did the same for the tan colour, then drybrushed the same shade over the top of the legs and waist. There are some natural mud and blood flecks which I’m particularly proud of, showing just how far a little rough weathering can go when it comes to creating a story behind a figure. I wanted to use a tiny bit more red on the figure, because I’d literally used about ten tiny drops of a whole pot, so I’ve drybrushed on some dried blood to the heel of his fist and along the underside of his wrist. Perhaps he cracked some rebel skull with the grip of his rifle and got some guck on his nice white armour, who knows? I then applied a nice helping of 1:5 wash/thinner across the whole figure, and I was going to wipe some of it off with a cotton bud while it was still slightly wet but it ended up giving a really nice dirty, oil-soaked look, so I left it as it was. Looks like this trooper got stuck on TIE detail on the Death Star at some point. The end result is a pretty beaten up trooper who looks like he’s been everywhere from Tatooine to Endor then back again, and I’m really happy with the result, especially those mud and blood flecks.

Overall: 10/10

With no other brands to compare to besides the ever-frustrating Warhammer and a handful of slide-together wooden and cardboard models I owned as a child, the Bandai Stormtrooper is still an obvious standout, as with the Gundam line. While they were still intact, my four Gundams were incredibly detailed even without painting or panel lining, and wonderfully articulated to boot. The Stormtrooper is no exception. Bandai create brilliant kits for a (mostly, providing it doesn’t include a sniper rifle the size of a building or colossal gold-chrome-plated wings) fantastically affordable price, and in my opinion this stands among the most satisfying and well-made of them all.

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Website Review 1: Inklewriter

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Today I decided that I might want to adapt the science fiction story I am currently working on into a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ story as well as a novel. So I looked up how to do it, and boy am I glad I did.

Karen Woodward gives a wonderful guide here, and I didn’t need to search the web for another. She recommended a site called ‘Inklewriter’, and after trying to slog through the many tutorials (which were helpful, it was just laziness on my part as there were a lot of them) I managed to start writing it. It was a success! I really like the way it turned out and it’s a neat little site.

The Good:

Inklewriter is a great little site. Once you get the hang of it, you can write your own CYOA story with ease. You can even insert images to pages of your choice, a feature I haven’t tried out yet but imagine works just as well as the rest of the site: wonderfully! They give a handy example to let you know how a CYOA could play out if you wrote one of your own, and the tutorials are useful for the basics.

To be Improved:

I said that you can write your own CYOA once you get the hang of it. Emphasis on that last part, this is hard to master. It took me a full ten minutes and five restarts to figure out why it kept deleting the last paragraph on one page, and I assumed it was a word limit or something. Which was odd, because my last page was twice as long. It turned out to be the website failing to deal with copying and pasting (you have to type after you’ve pasted something for it to actually recognise what you’ve pasted as text). The tutorials, though extensive, are very confusing and don’t always help with the problems you’re having, which was frustrating. There are also no options for changing the font/size/colour/etc and the site crashes sometimes. Though finished it seems like it’s still in an early stage of development which allows you to play with the basics, nothing more.

Overall: 6/10

A fun little site, and you can share your stories if you sign in! Unfortunately it appears that there’s no forum for everyone’s stories and that the sharing has to be done directly by linking back to the site from somewhere else, but it’s good enough for me! I liked it and I had fun, although I get the feeling that I’ll have to write my CYOA the traditional way on paper for the time being.