Hachette Andromeda, Volumes 51-58

Volume 51 comes with the biggest box yet.

Inside are a WHOLE BUNCH MORE parts for the display stand. This has been easy going so far, let’s keep it up.

First, we return to that last hull segment and attach yet another distributor box. This will certainly supply lighting to the stern, which holds all the engine parts. At right you can see where it will eventually be positioned. (It’s not permanent yet.)

And now back to the base. We start with one of the support columns, two shells that fit together and get stuck to the platform. It’s pretty darn close to the power button. Like, right on the edge of it. Seems strange to me, but somebody wants it there.

The other column contains the power connector. This is the reciprocal coupler mentioned in the last part.

Now the speaker and its “container cup” get attached to the underside of another platform part.

With both sides of the platform finished, they get mated into one. Later, a volume knob will poke up through that hole on the right side.

Next, there are three segments that will form the underside of the platform. The center one is a resting place for the battery compartment, so we install a little receiver clip there.

When all three parts are joined, we peel and stick eight rubber feet to it.

We finish by putting together the battery compartment, which sits in a little drawer. It’s curious that all the inscribed text is in English. I suspect this is a prefab component that ends up in a lot of consumer goods made in China. Incidentally, that’s where this entire model was manufactured after Hachette designed it. Just in case you needed to know.

And there’s the whole display stand. Except not really. There are still some internal parts coming for the electronics, so we can’t close it up yet. Plus, the part of the ship that will rest on the coupler isn’t actually built yet. It’s gonna be a great day when I can put this thing to work. For now, it’s a 21″ long table hog.

We’re all the way up to Volume 52. Something must have happened in the production process, because there are no more trays full of parts. They’re all boxed.

It probably had something to do with the larger sizes and shapes of the hull pieces. Cheaper and easier to box them, I guess. Anyway, with this volume we’re commencing with the stern section. We’ll begin with the left/port side of the ship.

Out of this crazy jumble of parts, we bring a few together for a single light.

It goes on the inside of this hull panel to create yet another popup on the outside.

Next, there’s an LED panel that gets installed to the other end of the panel. A translucent part goes in front of it…

…to create the light seen in this intake (at left). Next, we’ll attach this hull panel to a previous one.

Left: both panels are attached to form the left side of the stern section. Now we start on the first of the four auxiliary engines. This one is designated L1.

Right: the part I’ve been dreading. Each of the auxiliary engines has a long fin on it, and of course each fin has lights at the tip. This means threading those awful curly fibers again, struggling to glue them into their channels and then…wait a minute…no channels in this one. And three very distinct attach points instead of none. Did they somehow hear my bitching halfway around the world?

Sure enough, the fibers can find their positions without channeling, and the attachment points work perfectly with no chance of superglue spooge coming out of the seams to leave unsightly surface burns. IT’S BYOOTEEFULLLLL! I might not dread this part after all.

Next, we install a fiber light in the cowling of auxiliary engine L1. Easy enough.

There are two parts to the cowling, outside and inside. This is the inside part, which contains two small LED boards.

Next, the exhaust nozzle has three parts. The translucent part screws into the grey shell, then the red portion gets glued to the translucent part. Again with the glue.

The leading edge of L1 also has three parts, including a translucent one. (All these translucent parts are lit from behind by LEDs.)

The leading edge gets attached to the hull. It’s actually sort of a temporary attachment. A more permanent one comes up later.

The exhaust nozzle fits into the inside part of the cowling. It’s a bit loose for my taste, but doesn’t seem to want to tighten.

Now the cowling is ready to be fully assembled. The instructions said to glue the fin to the outside part first, but I didn’t like the idea of accidentally breaking it off so I’m leaving it unglued at the moment. The fibers from the outside part get pulled through the inside part…

…then both parts are screwed together (left). Next, all the noodels from L1 get pulled through an opening in the hull panel…

…and the entire thing gets installed from the inside. Now it’s safe to glue that fin on. It’s another job for superglue, but it’s got a big tab and a deep notch to contain all the spooge. Well, done, Hachette. I think I can handle three more of these.

Oh, the exhaust nozzle is still a bit wobbly, but it’s not going anywhere, so I can live with it.

Volume 53 is here.

Pretty much all the same parts as 52, but the hull panels are for the right side of the ship. The next auxiliary engine is designated L2.

Therefore, we can skip past all the assembly photos and go right to the end. L2 will be attached to the left side of the ship. but that step will happen later. Attaching it now would make the aft section much harder to handle as the big pieces come together.

On to Volume 54.

LOTS of parts in this box. This is everything we need for auxiliary engines R1 and R2. (No, there’s not a D2. Shame on you for making such a cheap joke.)

The instructions say to construct them one at a time, but I’m doing them in tandem to save time. Fins assembled, outside cowlings assembled.

Inside cowlings assembled, other bits assembled.

Auxiliary engine R1 is ready for attachment.

And there it is. No complaints, other than the nozzle being wobbly again. It doesn’t harm the look of the piece, so no biggie.

L2 and R2 are assembled, but they’ll go on standby for a few volumes. I’m guessing they’ll be the last parts to get attached.

Right: next, the hull panel for the belly of the ship (the one containing the hangar bay hatch) gets attached to the left side.

Okay, that went well, so let’s go ahead and put the other side on. Now we have a sense of how big the aft section will be. Basically, you could slip a 2-liter jug into this and still have some wiggle room.

The last step for this volume is to attach this little reinforcement part to the back end, straighten it up a little, and we’re done.

Big moves! It feels like we’re getting somewhere. There are unused parts for a distributor box, but they won’t remain unused for long.

Volume 55 gives us a bigger than usual box. What’s in this one?

Very identifiable parts this time: the main engine nozzle. I’m grateful to see that it’s simpler than the Yamato version.

Left: I love the fact that the nozzle is big enough to get you drunk if you could fill it with “spring water.”

Right: I don’t love the fact that I have to glue together the four fins that will be attached to the nozzle. I thought we were past this.

It’s another case where you have to hold the uncooperative fiber in place, deposit the super glue, and get the other half on before the fiber can jump out. I figured out a method that kept it in place, and fortunately only two of these fins have fibers in them, so I could use regular glue on the other two.

Left: but my method was not foolproof. There’s a big ol’ rotten glue burn right there. Hopefully I can position it face down, but WHY DO I HAVE TO GLUE ANYTHING, HACHETTE??? WE’VE BEEN OVER THIS!!!

Right: next, a large LED board gets attached to the inside of the engine. This will light up the nozzle.

We thread up two fibers and stick them through the underside of this part. This will give us two lights in the bottom of the ship that will barely be seen.

The glued-together fins are still drying, so let’s handle these two ribbon wires. One of them gets installed in the main body of the ship, which we finished a while ago. These ribbon wires all serve as relays from one distributor box to another.

The other ribbon wire goes into the box in the stern section, then a brace bar goes over the top to help hold it all together.

The fins are dry, so they can be attached to the nozzle. The instructions say to glue them, which I really, REALLY don’t want to do because the contact point is slim and guaranteed to spooge. Fortunately, they’re held in with pressure clips that work just fine on their own. See that, Hachette? Not every damn thing needs to be glued.

I started with the unlit fins, which go on the top and bottom. Next, the fins with fibers in them go into the sides. I did get that glue-burned to face DOWN, so it will not be visible at a casual glance.

Now the final part of the assembly: a large translucent piece drops into the nozzle, then the other section goes in to hold it in place. The two fibers from the light-up fins get threaded into the top and bottom of that section instead of the sides. No idea why, but it makes things quite confusing.

Why? Because those fin lights will almost certainly be two different colors. Red on one side, green on the other. There isn’t enough information in the instructions to tell you for sure which is which. I have no way of knowing until I can finally turn the lights on. (Which reminds me, we haven’t done a lighting test since waaaay back in the beginning. No idea why. Yamato had several, all at different stages to let us know what our labors were adding up to.)

Anyway, there’s a 50/50 chance I got this right. Fingers crossed.

And now, time for another big move: attaching the completed nozzle to the stern section.

There’s juuuuust enough length on my 5″ screwdriver to do this, which makes me grateful all over again that I bought it. It would have been impossible with the little one.

Once the engine is on, the entire back end of the ship is 15.5″ long.

In other words, it’s even bigger than it looks. I did a test-fit onto the main body of the ship and it was ASTONISHING. You’ll see.

Volume 56! At last, we’re in the homestretch.

This one moves its attention to the last major component, the undercarriage.

One of the parts is the LED board for that unassembled distributor box from Volume 54. It gets installed in the stern section.

It goes right next to the previous box and gets a relay ribbon. And now we move on to the undercarriage assembly.

Right: this is unbelievable. For the first time in 166 volumes, we get UNCURLED fiber optics. I never thought I’d actually see this in person. Four of them get inserted into each of these curved parts.

But…Hachette giveth and taketh away. Every single fiber up to this point has been secured with a metal screw. This is the first instance of one being secured by a plastic cap that has to be glued in place. I grumble through it, but it works. They’re all secure.

The fibers will get trimmed off to become light sources on the opposite side. Then this piece will fit behind a row of hatches.

The hatches are all a slightly different size and shape, but they’re numbered for easy positioning. Then the piece with the fibers holds them in place.

Both sides are done. The instruction books have been teasing us with computer-generated images of straight fibers all along. It’s mind-blowing to see them IRL.

Right: this assembly was well-engineered. Just the right amount of tension to keep those hatches in their closed position.

Finally, another fiber goes straight in from the top and an LED board gets installed behind a translucent part and another volume is history.

Right: unused parts for the next volume. Just four more to go! Three for ship assembly, one for the remote controller.

What does Volume 57 have in store for us?

Looks like more parts for the undercarriage. Specifically, the two nacelles that are slung beneath the tower.

Right from the start, this one feels hinky to me. There are WAY too many parts for what should be two pretty simple structures. Right here at the front end, there’s a small “cap” piece that should be glued down. The instructions don’t say to glue it down, but there’s really nothing else to hold it on.

The segment right behind it has another translucent part to be lit from inside. Okay, keep going.

Here we get to the worst part. The nose cone has to be glued to the segment with the lighting. And because of the plastic, it HAS to be super glue. And the way it’s constructed, you are guaranteed to get glue spooge and a permanent surface burn. This is sickening. It feels like sabotage. There are so many simpler ways to construct this.

Anyway, keep going. Next there’s the back end of the nacelles. Another cap piece that doesn’t stay on by itself.

Right: lighting bits with fibers. They come together with no fuss, at least.

Left: those lights pop out of the exterior sides of the nacelles, pointing at the emblem and insignia.

Right: two more lights for the interior sides.

Once those are installed, it’s time to put a complete nacelle together. I still haven’t glued on the end caps. Waiting to see if they offer up some other solution.

First step is to attach the stem, then pull all the noodles up through it. After the two halves are attached (WITH GLUE AGAIN) there’s no other resort but to glue on the end caps. Regular model cement takes care of it, but Bandai would never have done it this way.

Left: once the nacelles are complete, I flip them over and see some really terrible workmanship. Right in the middle you can see where they were cut free of their originally runners. I didn’t do that. That’s how they were packed. Very disappointing.

Right: Last step is to attach both nacelles to the hull.

It’s simple enough; pull the noodles through the hull plate and fasten the stem with two screws. Done. But I have to say this is my least favorite volume since finishing the tower. Needlessly complex and full of bad planning, like someone at Hachette was trying too hard. D minus.

Volume 58. Very close to the end now.

This one gives us everything we need to finish the undercarriage.

Another of those fins I dreaded so much. But this one comes together like a dream without a drop of superglue spooge.

Left: there’s a second, smaller fin as well. No real problems with this one, either. And this is the LAST fin I’ll have to deal with. HuzZAH.

Right: pieces for the distributor box that will supply light to the undercarriage.

Now I’ve got a dilemma. The first fin attaches to the bottom of the undercarriage. Its fibers get pulled through, then it gets screwed on. But if I do this, I won’t have a stable platform for all the lighting work that’s coming up. So I decide to leave it loose for now and glue it on later.

The distributor box goes in and all the fibers get collected and capped. Some of them are VERY difficult; two thin fibers have to go through a hole meant for one standard fiber. It’s a struggle to get them in and to keep them from folding up from the pressure of putting the cap on.

One by one, I get them to relent. But it takes a toll. I’d really, really like to be done with this project.

Right: a small respite; three pieces come together to form a knob.

This is the volume knob for the platform. Once piece closer to finishing that element off.

Next, a big move is required for a small thing. I have to pick up the entire body of the ship and flip it over. The thing is pretty heavy, but there’s nothing on the upper half that will break off if I do it. So there we go.

Now I’m supposed to glue on that smaller fin. Fortunately, it fits snugly enough not to need any. Thank you God or whatever.

That’s the end of Volume 58. Big stuff coming up next.

Keep going

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