Hello again friends,
Sorry it has been a bit longer than I had intended since the last update, I have been hit by the flu that is kicking butt around the country and have been laid up since Sunday trying to get over it. Good news though, it looks like I am on the mend and will be back to work/normal functionality tomorrow. Other good news, before I was consumed by the plague, I was able to completely finish the first of my 4 new Metal Earth dinosaur models: the Stegosaurus. If you remember this is the one I mentioned was driving me crazy when I did the bullet journal post (I have an update on that coming in the near future as well).
Before I go any further, please if you are reading this and you are one of those people who makes models all the time and have totally made better ones because the Metal Earth ones are so easy and bla bla bla, cool. I hear you. I do not have a ton of experience building these and there was definitely a learning curve involved and if hearing about my struggles is going to annoy you then please just skip this one. BUT if you feel like sharing some of your own experiences or any helpful advice in the comments please feel free, or if you have any pictures of your newest endeavor please drop them in the comments, I would appreciate seeing what some of the more skilled geeks are doing out there. Especially if you have made any of the Star Wars sets, because those look absolutely sick.
Now I guess it’s time to get back to my experience. When I talked about it last, I mentioned how much trouble I was having putting the model together because I could not get some of the tabs to big properly, regardless of what tool I tried to use. I actually went so far as to buy a $40 set of model building tools (Amy was not thrilled, but really I needed better model tools for my Warhammer figurines anyways so I’m going to go ahead and say they were not bought just for the dinos). Well, spoiler alert, I was having trouble with the small interior tabs because I had (stupidly) skimmed over a critical part of the directions and did not realize that those specific tabs I was struggling with were meant to be twisted instead of bent. This was something that took Amy all of 3 minutes to discover when she heard about my struggle and will now be my great shame for the rest of my model building career. Once I got that sorted, things kind of moved in fits and spurts. Some times things would be very intuitive and we would be making steady progress, only to hit some snag or find one piece that would just not work like it was supposed to in the instructions. But before I get into that I guess I should start at the beginning.
This is my Metal Earth laser cut 3d modelling kit
These are the very tiny and breakable pieces of said modeling kit. Emphasis on breakable.
This is a sample of the instructions that come to help you build your Stegosaurus. These are the fine line between your model looking like a sexy, sleek, shiny, metal dino or a mutated primordial monster. Read them. Love them.
Look at all of those shiny, straight, thin, delicate pieces just waiting do be made into something beautiful. Fun fact, although you can use scissors to remove them from the frame, the instructions recommend that you carefully bend them back and forth until the little holder pieces snap so you don’t get weird hanging edges that look ugly. Also fun fact, they aren’t kidding when they say carefully, and if you don’t bend in exactly the right place it will be the actual body part that snaps, not the holder piece. It took Amy and I about 3 pieces to realize this error. But hey that’s what superglue is for right? It took about 45 minutes to get all of the pieces out of the frame and ready to be put together into our masterpiece. The pieces range in size from “wow that’s small” to “holy hell how am I supposed to pick this up it’s too small”. They are also surprisingly detailed and fun to look at.
Example of “wow that’s small” pieces next to their friends “holy hell how am I supposed to pick that up it’s too small”. Tweezers in the background for size reference.
Once you get the pieces out (provided that you read the instructions properly) putting them together isn’t that hard in the early stages. As long as you have places to grip with your tweezers, and a decent amount of patience it all comes together pretty well. The instructions are clear, and as the parts start coming together they look really cool.
There was one small problem with the instructions though, and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture for reference. But if you look at the photo above, you can see those neck bones that are bent away from the head about 30 degrees back towards the ribs. That is how the model looks in the pictures on the cover. That is how real stegosaurus neck bones are shaped according to all of the pictures I found online. The instructions however, say to bend the neck bones 30 degrees forwards towards the head. Now I would normally say to defer to the instructions, but… the picture on the front of the box, and all of the pictures on the website clearly show them bent the other direction. So this hung Amy and I up for awhile as we went back and forth on which one we thought was right, in the end we went for the bones bent back towards the ribs because it looked better. If I made the wrong call here then I’m sorry model, for turning you into a derposaurus. But I blame bad info. That was the only issue with the instructions though, other than that they were quite clear and easy to use as a guide. This got us through the next 2 hours or so, up until we were nearing about 80% completion on the entire thing. The pieces were easy to bend, fairly easy to work with, and we started to feel some real confidence building. Unfortunately, shortly after this point, right when things started looking really good, we started hitting some real snags.
This shiny calm before the storm…
If you look at that last picture, you may notice that as more pieces start getting added the places that you can grip and grab a section start to shrink. This becomes a real issue when it comes time to do things like put two big sections together. Not only that, but once you can actually get them to fit together properly, in order to bend the little tabs you have to put some torque on the frame itself which was then leading to bending in other places that bending should not have been occurring. I am sure this is just where experience with this type of model comes into play, but because this was our first one we were having absolute fits for the last 45 minutes of build time. These issues also meant that the further out a piece was from the center, the less secure it was overall. We would be working on one leg, trying to maneuver it into place and delicately grab a tab, only for the one we had just secured to fall off, which would then lead to some of the most beautiful and creative cursing I have heard come out of Amy’s mouth in quite some time. It all came to a head in the final dramatic moment, when we had finally completed the model and sat back to bask in our awesomesness, only to have the head fall off and clatter to the floor. We put it back on only to have a piece of leg fall off. Call us cheaters but it eventually because so frustrating that we just said “screw it gimme the superglue” and now our Stegosaurus is SECURE. Seriously I am pretty sure he could take a bomb impact at this point. So the job got done but I kind of got that feeling like when you would beat a a difficult game but had to use a cheat code to get the job done.
Overall, I would say that the finished product was definitely worth the pain it was to build. I love dinosaurs, and I love having a metal model of one on my desk at work. It was a fun new experience, and I am certainly going to build the other 3 in the coming weeks. I think now that I have learned from some mistakes on this one the others should come together easier right? I would certainly recommend these to anyone who is a dinosaur or model enthusiast, although I would make sure that you have some very good tools for picking up and maneuvering small things. Also patience is critical. Maybe have some whiskey on hand. That’s something I am DEFINITELY going to have at the ready for the next one (which is saying something because I am pretty sure I am building that one at work), a few pieces every day. I’ll be sure to post the pictures of the others as they come together, and again if anyone reading this has experience in these or any other cool models that you want to show off please feel free to do so in the comments. Monday I will have another post up about the new hedgehog and towards the end of next week I will update progress on the bullet journal. Have a good weekend all!
The finished product. Be amazed… or at least mildly amused.