Fictional / Real World Background
When the Galactic Empire-inspired military junta known as the First Order arose from the ashes of the former, it too took the design of the original TIE to equip its forces. The new version of the TIE, designated TIE/fo has the same look as the original although slightly smaller (due to advanced and more efficient solar panels) and was armed with a pair of the new version of the original laser cannons, designated L-s9.6. Other improvements include a stronger hull and the use of a rudimentary deflector shield, reflecting the First Order's change of attitude towards starfighter pilots, viewing them as. Externally the body and the solar panel /wing framing are now painted black, to act as camouflage against visual tracking during space battles. The wings are also strong enough that the craft can be landed on its wings. Another version, TIE/sf, is a more heavily armed, two-person starfighter but are only issued to elite pilots.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The TIE fighter was created by Industrial Light & Magic's Colin Cantwell for Episode IV : A New Hope while the distinctive sound was created by Ben Burtt by mixing the sound of an elephant call with a car driving on wet road. Grey was used as the primary colour of the TIEs as the original maroon was found to blend too quickly into the star field background when moving away from the camera. The TIEs in The Force Awakens were able to be painted black due to a more modern method of filming and creating special effects.
Another member of the first line-up of Bandai Star Wars kits released towards the end of 2015, the TIE/fo kit is simply not a re-tooled Imperial TIE/Ln, also released around the same time. Using the studio model as guide, the TIE/fo kit has subtle changes that differs it from the TIE/Ln. Most noticeable is the smaller wings compared to the TIE/Ln. The wing construction is also simpler than the TIE/Ln. Most of the parts were moulded in black, save for the windowless windscreen and wing solar panel in light grey, display base in sand yellow, optional crew hatch and windscreen in clear and the 'laser beams' in clear green. A decal and sticker sheets plus the instruction sheet completed the package. As usual the parts are very well moulded. The painting instructions are very simple, consisting of just four colours (make that grey and three shades of black). Two crew figures are included, one standing, the other in a rather stiff sitting posture.
As usual, although a fictional vehicle, construction started at the cockpit. Part A5 was placed first and although the fit is fairly tight, the part was cemented to the cockpit floor. The crew seat was cemented into place, having been painted XF-63 beforehand. Parts A4 and A6 (apparently the control columns) were first painted Gunze H315 for the 'stick' half and X-18 Semi-Gloss Black for the 'display panels'. Decals were then applied to represent the instrument readouts. The Pilot was then inserted onto the seat. I didn't paint him, save for some buttons on the suit and applying X-22 Clear Gloss. More decals were applied to the crew compartment shell although they end up being invisible from the outside. The shell of the TIE's fuselage was then closed up. For the crew entry hatch, I used the clear plastic version, with the windows masked for painting. The windscreen was however left off at this time to facilitate painting while the aerial was left off due to its vulnerability.
Painting and Decalling
At first, I was thinking of leaving the model unpainted. However I changed my mind after realising that the sonar panels have a lighter colour than the light grey of the plastic, in fact it was almost white. To get a uniform colour between the clear and black plastic, the fuselage (if you can call it that) and the wing frames were sprayed Tamiya TS-6 Matt Black. The wing panels were painted XF-2 Flat White mixed with a little bit of XF-19 Sky Grey to make it a little off-white.The canopy frame was painted Tamiya TS-32 Haze Grey. As for the decals....what decals? OK, actually there are up to eight pieces to be used on the outside surface of the model but I painted the windscreen frame and the crew hatch door instead. The rest (specifically on the cannon assembly and the engine) are pretty problematic to get in place, as they were in recesses and the carrier film was in the way, they were not used. Instead XF-7 Flat Red was painted on the relevant areas.
I did not wash the model as the paint is already dark and I'm not a believer of having lighter colour inside the engraved panel lines . With hindsight, maybe I should have painted the model with something lighter, like dark grey or the like. I end up dry brushing dark grey on the raised details. The display stand parts were painted X-18 Semi-Gloss Black as a base. As with the Resistance X-Wing Fighter, the display base have textures suggesting the sand dunes of Jakku. While the early starship dogfight scenes were shown to be on Jakku, I decided to paint the base Flat White to represent the snowy surface of Starkiller Base and act as a companion (sort of) to the Resistance X-Wing. The whole assembly was then sprayed with a sealing layer of semi-gloss clear.
All my lingering prejudice against Bandai was swept away by the time I opened this kit's box. As mentioned before, the parts have very nice and crisp details and once construction began, it went on very smoothly, even better than the X-Wing I built previously. The kit can also be built unpainted as the majority of the parts are moulded in their respective colours although the wing panels are really too dark as they were. I'm looking forward for more Bandai Star Wars kits in my collection! And I should add that before placing the model onto its display base, I took the time to zoom around my hobby room with the model while making a terrible impression of the sounds a TIE fighter makes!