The Solar Collector PanelsAt last I returned to the TIE and its solar collector panels. I thought it'd be easiest, or in a sense, somewhat faster, to first prepare the A sides of both panels and then the B sides. To make everything much, much more pleasant for the builder, both the panels and the wing braces had matching numbers on them. This way it was much easier to find the proper pieces, as opposed to staring at the map and the metal sheets.
Getting the first half of the first panel took something like twenty minutes. The second one went together somewhat faster as the process was familiar. After all the pressing, bending, squeezing and manhandling the braces weren't arrow-straight as the instructions expected. I did straighten them out a bit, but I was going to do that much more thoroughly when the wings were all done. The B-sides were going to take at least an equal amount of work and fooling around.
B-sidesInstalling the wing braces on the flipsides didn't take more than half an hour in the end. Somehow staring at these tiny pieces felt damn weird in my eyes, as they reflected the light from the ceiling lamps straight into my eyes. The contrast provided by the tiny slits wasn't much compared to the shiny, reflecting material. And thanks to the already installed bits, they were also in challenging locations. Despite that all these twelve bits went in that quickly, which was pretty amazing.
The final stage of assemblyI really was concerned about the attachment phase, mostly because I hadn't got the pylons attached properly despite my heavy effots. Then I was concerned about the possibility that I had, after all, stressed the pieces too much...
"Who dares, wins", they say. The first solar collector panel went on to the pylon just like that. So did the second one, but accidentally at a 90 degree angle, a fact that I geniously* realized only after I had bent all the attachment pieces. Luckily these bits were of an easy shape and I managed to unbend all the connectors back straight with the gentle help of my x-acto knife. Reattaching the piece was just as easy this time and got just as tightly shut as before. No, I didn't manage to build this one without a single misaligned subassembly, either... sigh :)
*)I was recovering from a midday migraine and still wasn't nearly up to my normal mental capacity at seven in the evening
The wing attachment was sealed (or decorated) with hex pieces. They were installed with even more ease than the panels themselves. It did look like a proper TIE Fighter. A shame that the claws weren't as tightly attached as they required and I really had no chance to fix them anymore when I realized my problem.
As the last step in this project I bent the support stand. It also had to be attached to the bottom of the TIE and at this point I was expected to pop out two connector tongues outside from the bottom of the Command Pod. Yes, it was mentioned now and not when the whole pod was still open and more than easily manipulated. Because why not?
This time I was fortunate and my pointy-ended pliers just barely fit inside from the viewport and were narrow enough to be used to press out these very aerodynamically flush pieces just enough that I could bend them open from the outside. I was pretty close to start swearing like a drunk pirate.
In the end it was just a tiny speedbump, the result was that my legendary TIE Fighter stayed in form and looked like it was always meant to look like. At long last!