Lost in Space “Derelict” Model

Abstract

This is my amateurish (but brilliant 😀 ) build of the Moebius Models Lost in Space “Derelict” kit with a little more effort having gone into the paint finish than others I’ve seen on the ‘net. Not that they’re not brilliant too – just not quite as brilliant as mine. 😮

I jest of course

My painting skills are non-skills, so I chose this kit as a beginner’s exercise. I’m more interested in building the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Flying Sub, but it demands high gloss “perfection” and I’m not there! As the Derelict is supposed to be dilapidated, I figured I could get away with a few mistakes here and there. 😮 But it worked out pretty well. 😀

Background

“The Derelict” was Season 1, Episode 2 of the original Irwin Allen TV series. The ship was nothing short of incredible. Large models and “real” effects. Put into perspective – it was a 1965 kid’s show more than a decade before Star Wars, and it was done on a moderate budget. Star Wars’ Death Star by comparison, was a static 2D matte painting! This was seriously spectacular stuff given the context of the show and the era in which it was made.

The pictures show a view of the derelict from the Jupiter 2’s view port, the Jupiter 2 manoeuvring around it, and then being swallowed up. LOL

The plan was to build the kit to look basically like that, but with a few tweaks. 😀

Background

Having entered a void of ideas for new audio projects, I’m delving back into scale model building – something I planned to do in retirement anyway. Apart from “Tarzan as a Bronze” done in 2019 and the scratch-built Jupiter 2 back in 1980, I haven’t built a scale model since childhood, so I thought I’d start with something “simple”.  Oh yeah – there was the ceramic “Invaders” ship. I forgot about that one.

According to folklore (or baseless speculation), the original studio prop was made from a Papier-mâché coated weather balloon. Innovative eh? I guess you could consult L.B Abbott’s book “Special Effects: Wire, Tape and Rubber Band Style” or some other source about his work with Howard Lydecker to know for sure.  I can’t find one.

As the TV episode was in B&W, no colour information is available. I remember seeing the studio prop repurposed end-up inside the Andronican ship in “His Majesty Smith” (S1, E24), but again that was B&W, so no help.

  • Interesting aside that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere on the ‘net: In the episode His Majesty Smith, at around 30 minutes, the hairy Andronican makes a duplicate of Dr Smith. The real Smith is on a slab at the right. It’s done quite cleverly without a cut. The camera pans away from the real Smith just after he sits up. Jonathan Harris must scoot around behind the camera to assume the role of the duplicate on the other slab to the left! Kevin Hagen (the hairy Andronican) waves his arms at the controls in front of the Derelict prop to delay for Harris’ manoeuvre. A mistake is that in the next shot of the real Smith, he’s lying down again. LOL!

The prop was again repurposed and reconfigured as Vera Castle in S3, E1 – Condemned of Space, but it was given a fresh paint job which appeared blue. I suspect that Vera Castle was made up from parts from the Derelict and the fuel barge from S2, E2 – Wild Adventure.

Anyway it was a derelict. It was metallic and rough, yet semi-glossy, and it’s been floating there for another 55 years, so I figured it needed some weathering (yeah – space weathering like from decades of bombardment by gamma rays and cosmic dust LOL), corrosion (yep – special space corrosion) and a gloss clear coat would look nice. There were random thin streaks and mottled effects. The body and hangar doors were mottled, but the six “eyeballs” were more bright and shiny, so I stayed true to the original on those aspects.

Building it

Well the main parts are basic and fitted together reasonably well despite the false instructions at Step 2E and inaccurate drawings! Main Hull Hinge Ring (#8) must be cemented first into Starboard Hull Half (#1) as there is a notch that’s absent from the drawings! Who did that? Certainly not a Patent Attorney. Yes I am (or was) a Patent Attorney and I only write and draw crap in my spare time.

As a kid I always “dry fitted” parts first and it pays! LOL

No Super Glue here! It’s non-permanent and horrible. For the grey plastic parts I used Revell “Contacta” which is exactly the same as “Airfix” glue that I remember sniffing as a kid. LOL  It melds the plastic parts together. For the clear parts I used Selleys “Exterior” PVA.

Some progress pics:

   

 

The structure itself is little more than a 3D canvas and most of the time and effort went into the painting it and waiting weeks for each coat to dry thoroughly.

The painting process included sanding down the filler at the seems, then applying Tamiya primer from an aerosol.  I deliberately did not sand back the primer, so as to keep it rough. The remaining paints were Vallejo acrylics. The next step was to apply a few coats of gun metal, then random airbrush streaks in aluminium. Then stippling with Vallejo washes starting with Dark Grey, then various other wash colours including several rust and oxide shades.

I figured there must have been hydraulics to activate the hangar doors, so it needed oil leaks! 😀 Also the kid in me imagined that the small sphere may have been intended to rotate with respect to the large one, but the budget on the show didn’t allow for it. It would have looked amazing with those glass louvres rotating slowly. Well it never happened, but given the appearance of a small gap at the joining section, it must have had a leaky oil seal and that’s why the bearing seized! LOL!!! 😛 Thanks to Vellejo “Oil Stains” for that one. And the rivets might as well be rusty too. Oh and there must be leaks at the base of the hangar doors too. Anyway I think it looks awesome – if not true to the original.

After looking at the above photos, I decided that it needed a little extra age patina from the Green Dimension, so Vallejo Dark Green wash was ordered from The Celestial Department Store. It would complement the lovely “eyes”. Zumdish was very fast to deliver:

With that done it needed thorough drying for another week or so before the clear coat could be applied as a few layers of “Fuel Stains” or clear gloss varnish.

In the meantime the base needed attention. It’s too narrow rendering the top-heavy display susceptible to toppling. Others substitute a wider base from another kit, but I preferred to stabilise the original small and inconspicuous base with lead sinkers.

RoHS certified pig iron. LOL. “Too bad. Too bad”. They’re cut almost in half, splayed open, and fixed with Araldite. The wires pass through holes melted in the plastic webs with a soldering tip. The wires also pass around glued-down anchoring tabs of styrene offcuts. They provide reinforcement and additional anchoring for the plaster stuffing – naturally mixed with a dollop of Gloog (PVA) to “make stuffing work better” LOL!

Made Sleemoth. Very happy!

A coat of RustGard satin black over Tamiya primer. Who says you can’t use automotive enamels on plastic models?

Black cardboard, then felt PVA’d over the stuffing. Should look same in 10,000 years!

It’s quite heavy and effectively lowers the centre of gravity. 😀

And put to good use during paint drying sans hangar doors, clear coat and clear plastic parts:

The plan was always to display the model with the hangar doors closed. “Everyone” choses the open configuration, but to me it looks wanky since the chintzy cardboard interior is out of scale, and the hangar doors were only opened briefly in the show anyway. The provided miniature Jupiter 2 is also out of scale, so it can go somewhere else.  The kit actually came with three so they can get spread around the house. LOL

Figured it needed more grody rust spots (yeah – OCD and living in the past):

A friend who showed me how to use Vallejo washes said it looked fantastic without a clear coat and urged me to “just leave it like that”, but I really wanted to shine it up since to me it looked too dull.

So … a thin coat of Vallejo Mecha Fuel Stains from the airbrush. I decided against a straight clear gloss as the fuel stains would add some richness of colour (it’s kind of an orange/brown tinted clear gloss) and maybe it would make the green a bit more subtle and disguise some of the harder edges in the colour transitions underneath:

Next day a second heavier coat:

That sat on an upstairs window sill in a 30°C breeze for a day, then for the final coat I gave the airbrush a 3 second boost and it went into a hyperdrive. LOL

Being an acrylic, it’s not as brilliant as an oil-based gloss enamel, but that’s pretty much what I was after and it seems true enough to how it appeared on the show.

Clear plastic parts

Oops! 😳 Before applying the Fuel Stains gloss coating and while test-fitting one of the clear dome covers (the instructions call them “deflector units”) I accidentally broke off one of the eyeballs! LOL. What a silly goose! The plastic pins that hold them on are very thin and fragile. Anyway no real harm done.  I drilled through both the hangar door and the back of the eyeball with an 0.75mm mini-bit and stuck in an off-cut diode leg and fixed it with Araldite. It’s now the strongest one of the six. A “highly professional” jig held it at the correct angle while the epoxy dried (it’s the middle one):

Other people soak clear plastic model parts like aircraft canopies in Pledge Future floor polish to make them look more glass-like. That’s probably OK, but I’ve read contrary views and being an amateur, I decided to leave well enough alone rather than risking these very delicate and intricate parts.  I did dab Vallejo Gloss Varnish on a few areas where the sprue was cut away however. 😀 One site that seems to have some following shows a built-up kit with all the clear “antennae” bits dulled as though etched which is wrong. Eeuch! On the show the parts are of very high gloss. As they’re like that straight out of the box, there was no point risking anything.

To attach the clear dome covers, a small amount of PVA was applied using a toothpick around the edge of each eye, then the domes were aligned and pressed down. A book holds a pair overnight on a rubber pad at the edge of a desk:

Better than cracking them with a clamp or something. It was a bit of a pain matching the six domes with the eyes as the fit is tight and some pivoting was required. A flaw in the Moebius design is that the clear domes are so thick that they don’t allow for paint thickness, so some of them sit slightly proud. Was going to use Araldite, but I figured the water-based PVA would be less likely to react badly with the acrylic paint, and it dries clear enough.

Hangar doors getting glued together:

The “irises” were done as a swirl of Dark Mediterranean Blue in Gunmetal, with green dots (a blend of Dark Mediterranean Blue and Chrome Yellow) added by toothpick. I know the original had no detail in the irises and someone reported Billy Mumy having claimed that the studio prop had pink eyes, but that would look terrible. Mine look kind of like opals which wasn’t the intention, but it is a good look! 😀

Toothpicks also used to hold the hangar doors hard onto the “Closed Door Attachment Plug” as the glue dried overnight. Extra glue under each bulldog clip. Almost looks like a tortoise shell finish! May have gone a little overboard with that 3 second boost. LOL 😀

All of the clear balls on the “Propulsion Field Emitters” have big air bubbles inside. Can’t tell if that’s deliberate or a moulding artefact, but that they look sucky is undoubted.

Final pics:

The mini Jupiter 2 there is not from the kit.  It’s the metal die cast “Johnny Lightning” from 1998.

Look. No strings:

Thanks to paint.net for removing the support pole.

And with a bit of black cardboard behind it and halogen lighting:

That’s all. 😀

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