This will be my first official review of a 3D printed kit. As is always the case when I write my reviews of a kit, I had some long conversations with the designer. As a result, I came back with a TON of behind the scenes information. In fact, there was so much that I decided to write a sister article to this one about the designing the actual model. You can read that interview by following THIS LINK.
To start off this new type of review, we will first focus on the 1:2500 scale MCS-7 Class Destroyer from Tactical Game Systems.
T.G.S. Promo Mini-Poster
Dave who owns and operates T.G.S. asked me to point out that the model I'm working with is a PROTOTYPE. So please keep that in mind when reading my review.
Dave gave a little bit of backstory in regards to this ship and others that he is currently designing.
TGS creates models for space combat games, with a design aesthetic that is based on a "hard" sci-fi storyline - a "space flight chronology", if you will, of the next 500 years of the solar systems growth. There is no warp drive, but there are super fast fusion powered graviton engines. At various times through that time frame, the systems of Earth, Mars and the Jovian Planets are at war.
The Carl Richardson, a MCS-7 Class Destroyer was inspired by the UNSS Amity-Verne Class "Warp 2.7" Cruiser as described on pages 70, 74 and 75 of the "Star Trek Space Flight Chronology" - Pocket Books, 1980. Dave thinks that the Amity-Verne Class was designed by Sternbach.
The model itself comes as a one piece deal and measures in at just over 10cm of solid plastic. There is no stand but I have been told that you will be able to purchase these when the website goes live.
If you are interested in reading more about this model right from the source, or wanting to purchase it, feel free to go HERE.
MCS-7 Destroyer Class
1:2500 Tactical Game Systems Kit
DeepSpace Pat's Paint Scheme
As I stated earlier, this is a one piece deal, meaning that you really only need to clean and paint it. No glue is necessary.
Out of the pack, the model looks beautiful when you look at her from the top. I really like 3D printing in that you end up with a very crisp looking model and this one is no exception.
The bottom side looks a bit rough, but that was explained in the packaged directions that some sanding, and possibly some putty is required to remove the sprue connections from the model.
Dave explains the prep work for your the builder very well with the following:
You don't need to wash the model like you do with resin kits, however it won't hurt. I would just be very careful because any strong soap or cleaner might dissolve some of the details. If you do wash them, just be careful when you touch the model. In certain cases you could leave scratches on the surface if you rub it no too hard. T.G.S. also applies a coat of paint to the model after it is printed.
When you receive the model you will notice the “de-sprue” marks from the printer. These are very small bumps from where the sprues were snipped off. These can be sanded down, just like you would on a plastic model kit. In some cases, you might notice a small dent or “divot” on the model where the sprue end point came off and removed a small portion of the model. These “holes” can be patched up on most models with modeling putty (and sanded and painted as normal) – or by using clear epoxy on the clear models we produce. The surface of the model can also be sanded to remove any striations that show up (again this should be minimal with our high-end prints), and/or the model can be painted with a “3d print filler” product (like Smoothon XTC3D), if needed.
Once patched and sanded, the model should be primed with a standard model paint. We prefer acrylic but enamels work as well. We would not recommend Krylon paints as some are very powerful and may distort the plastic if put on before a primer coat. One thing to keep in mind is that some 3d prints will start to show the striations on the print once a “wash” is added to the model. For some folks this is a great look, for others that prefer a smoother look, sanding or priming is key – or minimal use of washes on flat surfaces.
Finally, when working with our products, it is important to wear gloves and eye protection. 3D printed resin is not as dangerous to be around and work with as standard resin based models, but it’s still a good idea to work safe and keep the dust away from important things like your eyes and lungs.
Don't do like I did and try using an exacto knife to slice off them off, otherwise, your ship WILL have battle damage.
Like it's resin cousins, the 3D printed model can be fragile in certain areas if you are not careful.
Honestly though, after you sand and give the model another base coat of paint, she looks really nice.
I ended up using Testor's Gunship Grey (#1130) for my basecoat. I felt that it gave the ship a nice dark and foreboding, almost warlike look to her.
I will most likely paint my mistakes up with some sort of battle scaring to cover them up. I didn't even need to putty although other modelers may wish to do so, I stopped last night with most of the new base coat on and the "bussard collectors" painted.
The remaining detail work was rather easy, although I did use the end of a pin to paint some of the tiny parts.
It was a pleasure to actually get to work with someone's prototype and do a review on it.
As I stated before, you really do need to follow directions and remove the excess sprue in the recommended fashion, otherwise, like me, you will damage your model. HOWEVER, that is not the T.G.S.'s fault, but rather my own.
Other than that, this is a first rate little model. There is no assembly or gluing required. The details on her are crisp and she is a really nice looking little ship.
At this point in my reviews, I have to make a recommendation on whether I would recommend this sort of model to a first time modeler or kit builder. Given that there is no assembly, I would definitely say yes. A first timer would just need to take thier time on painting the finer details of the ship as the 1:2500 scale makes painting the tiny gun turrets a bit more tricky. I ended up using the end of a pin as a paint brush.
And that is really all I have to say about this kit.
I hope you found this article as useful and informative as I did while writing it. Please feel free to leave any comments, questions or suggestions below.
So, for now, "Live Long & Prosper!"
Helpful Hint Articles
NOTE: If you are new to my reviews, then please read on. This section talks about the garage kit maker that made this kit as well as a little about why I'm writing this review. If you are one of my regular readers, then feel free to skip the rest of this article as it is a word for word repeat of stuff from previous articles.
Kit Maker Information
Dave who runs Tactical Gaming Systems Industries sells all of his kits via his website.
Dave also maintains a FaceBook page where he likes to share his work in progress on future kit releases. I really like this approach as I'm a big fan of behind the scenes stuff.
I find Dave to be a very approachable kit maker. He has a regular day job and the model making business has a direct connection to that job. If you have ever followed Dave's work, you will know that he designs his models in 3D modeling software and then prints the final product in house. He loves to talk about the hobby and has lots of good advice about the hobby, especially in the area od 3D modeling, if you ever ask him for it. He will usually answer any questions you send to him within a day or two.
T.G.S.'s FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TacticalGameSystems/
T.G.S.'s Website: http://tacticalgamesystems.com/
T.G.S.'s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As of the writing of this review, the website is currently online, but the webstore is not. Per Dave, "We hope to have the web store up by May 1st, 2016. This will include our current spaceship models, and other items like stands and other sci-fi miniatures.".
When I interviewed Dave about his business, and about how long it took to design this model, I was given a TON of information that warranted writing a second article. You can read that interview by following THIS LINK.
I had asked Dave about stands for this model and this is what he had to say.
"We would like to offer stands to our customers. These would be separate and would be available on our website. Each model should have a small hole in its base, at its COG – the hole varies based on the scale of the model, but most are 1mm in diameter and will accept most “pegs” from standard table top game ship stands."
I consider myself an intermediate model maker. I'm pretty good with assembling kits these days and OK on the painting side of things. I ultimately end up with ships that look good enough to me to display in my collection and I'm told by those that look at the collection that they look good so that makes me happy too. I've found that there are all sorts of neat ships out there that no one has made a pre-built or pre-painted model of, so, in an effort to expand my ship collection I've turned to building them myself, either by kitbashing or purchasing ready made resin model kits.
There are several smaller garage kit makers out there that produce some very good kits. I've actually developed a good relationship with a couple of them and volunteered some of my time to write up reviews about the kits I've purchased from them. I have already warned them that I intend to be pretty objective, not pull any punches, and these reviews are going to be written from the point of view of an intermediate model builder. If this means that I warn away a first time builder from a particular kit, then they will need to be OK with that approach.
Lastly, due to the nature of resin casting, not every kit is going to be the same. Excess resin and air pockets are a part of the game when you get into this sort of model building.
3D printing is a different beast though as they are not reliant on a rubber mold that will wear out over the course of a run. However, sometimes things just happen so I feel comfortable saying the following thing for these types of model as well.
The kit that I got and built may be slightly different than your kit as far as minor quality issues. I will still point out flaws with my kit as those flaws could lead into a lesson of some sort for either you the reader or the kit maker themselves.