It All Started So Simple: The Speeder Bike Project

The original “Star Wars” trilogy has fueled my imagination since I saw the first movie with my father clear back in 1977. It gave us so many iconic ships and vehicles. One of those was the Imperial Speeder Bike from “Return of the Jedi”. This little scratch-build project was inspired by that, but not intended to be an outright copy. Its beginnings were humble enough: the lower leg portion of a Bandai Master Grade RGM-79:

Looking at it from the angle pictured above, and it just reminded me of the Speeder Bike, so I decided to do my own speeder bike in 1/20th scale. Before I go into the nuts and bolts of that, I’ll talk briefly about the figure/rider/driver/pilot.

The Rider
The rider began life as a Tamiya “Pit Crew” figure. They’re still readily available, and a good source of 1/20th “civilian” looking figures for Maschinen Krieger. They come as a set of six (I think?), so by combining a few different parts from a few different figures, I came up with a good pose, with relatively little modification. The biggest challenge was the fact that they’re all wearing short-shorts (“hot pants”?), and that definitely didn’t fit with what I was going for.

I’ve seen other modelers apply Milliput or other sculpting putty to modify the apparel, but I’m honestly not that good at working with Milliput for such detailed work. So, instead, I took a different route. Using my utility knife, I smoothed down the edge where the shorts meet the bare legs. From there, I made an “anklet” out of metal HVAC tape for the cuff of the pants. And then I wrapped the bare portion of the legs with plumber’s tape. For me, it was still less work than trying to sculpt pants.

Next, he needed knee pads. For that, I cut some strips of Tamiya masking tape for the pad straps, circled them around each leg twice, and then glued on a couple of small fake fingernails. No self-respecting Maschinen Krieger modelers’ toolbox is complete without fake fingernails and ping pong balls. Once those were on, I liberally applied Mr. Surfacer 500 and roughed it up with an old paintbrush to give it some thickness and texture. I also added another masking tape strap to his left thigh (along with a photo-etch “buckle”) for no particular reason. Probably subconsciously inspired by the look of comic book characters from the very early 90’s.

For the head, I–again–used Tamiya masking tape as a strap, and then glued on the goggles from a Maschinen Krieger “pilot” bust. And with that, he’s ready for paint.

The Speeder Bike
I only had very general ideas about how I was going to make the bike look. I wanted it to draw similarities from the Star Wars speeder bike, but I didn’t want it to be an exact copy. I wanted something more asymetrical. Something that looked like it had started out life on a production line, but over the years had been modified and maintained in someone’s garage. So, in a nutshell, it was a matter of going through the “scrap” kits I have, and adding parts that seemed to fit, along with photo-etch, styrene, jewelry wire, and brass.


So far, there’s pieces from no less than nine different model kits–in every scale from 1/12 to 1/144–represented there.

I remarked yesterday that I know I’m on the right track with this thing, because I look at it and just grin. I’m definitely pleased with how it’s turned out so far. At this point, I think there’s just a few details I want to tack on to it, and then it’ll be ready for paint. Once that’s done, I’ll get to work on the base for it–which will be simple, but (with what I have planned) should definitely enhance the overall appearance of the piece.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.


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