Humble beginningsMy TIE Fighter construction project started with the wing pylons. The fact that I had to, once again, roll up a flat piece of metal did cause some head-scratching. The biggest issue was, however, with the insanely tiny claw-like bits that were to be assembled and attached to the ends of the pylons.
In addition to being tiny they also were to be attached into tightly confined spaces with little room to maneuver in. After a bunch of tightening attempts I still didn't get them sit as tight as I wanted them to be (and I didn't want to break them with more force), but I hoped that they'd be pressed tightly enough against the cockpit later on. That's what I assumed that the designer had planned.
The cockpitTurning a flat piece of metal to recreate the legendary ball-shaped frame of the TIE series did sound a bit counterintuitive. Especially when you remember how easy it was to fold cylinders, or Emperor forgive, funnels... So I started with pretty mildly bent edges that I could tighten up later on. It'd be much easier to bend them more than unbend and straighten them out.
After getting my first odd edges I proceeded to the next phase: attaching the wing pylons. I really don't know what I did so very wrong, but despite many very serious attempts I just couldn't connect both the top and bottom "tongues" into the holes of the cockpit. This was ridiculous.
At this point I'll mention that I got pretty fed up and ignored this build for over a week. After returning to the project I couldn't attach them properly because the other end was always half a millimetre off, no matter how I bent this and that. Thanks to the efforts I did get one of the claws broken off, though!
An iconic viewportOne of the important and instantly recognizeable features of the TIE series units was the gorgeous canopy / window setup. Building that was an adventure, in a way. Somehow forcing the eight-slice flat circle into a three-dimensional "cup" did feel wrong (I was naturally afraid of breaking that), but the whole setup settled in surprisingly well. After a sick amount of bending, twisting, pressing and swearing I got the canopy subassembly attached to the front of the cockpit unit. With that the cockpit module also found its own shape and started slowly looking a bit like the real thing.
EngineeringOn the opposite side I built the rear bit, which included the Twin Ion Engines. First I had to fold a couple of tipless funnels and the smaller one had to be installed inside the bigger one, very entertainingly, inversedly. That was to make it a bit more difficult to align. But still, it worked out pretty nicely after a bit of twisting. Lastly this odd shape had to be attached to the ring, which was confusingly easy to do.
The most difficult part was to come. In a way attaching the viewport was easy, as the whole cockpit was at worst 50% closed and there was plenty of space to maneuvre and fiddle around. As the rear piece sealed the whole sphere the situation was completely opposite. I couldn't poke from the other side anymore and the cockpit itself was much, much less flexible. Now I had to fight both the eight-connector piece and the cockpit itself. After a few sweaty (and sweary) minutes I had the ball sealed.
At this point I had to start thinking if I was going to cheat with superglue or if I'd leave the wing pylons half-attached into the frame itself. Even with my final attempts I just could not get the pylons forced in, not even remotely. My tiny brain just couldn't understand any of this.