Updated WC3 Excalibur Cinematic Model Print

Chronocidal Guy

Rear Admiral
Hey folks, I figured I'd drop an update on this project after all this time. The pandemic gave me a lot of time to work from home, so it was a big opportunity to let my printer operate in the background. I didn't want to necro any old print threads, or derail someone else's, but if any mods think it's appropriate, feel free to merge this one with another topic. I mostly didn't want to take away from the beautiful Hornet model posted more recently.

I think my first attempt at this model was through Shapeways back in 2012 or so, and at that time, it was about $70 for a 7-inch model. That version can still be found there, but it's a completely blank model, with no panel lines or other details. Also, in the years since I uploaded it, the price has ballooned to over $150 for what is basically their lowest quality print.

After trying to manually engrave panel details into that Shapeways print, I decided it made more sense to embed them in the model. Come 2019, I picked up a larger enclosed printer, and used that model as my first test project. That's where that bright red Excalibur came from. It came out really well, though being in a single piece made sanding it smooth an insane prospect.
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So, I set to breaking that model out into a better set of solid parts that could be printed, and then slid together with interlocking tabs. After two years of working on and off on refining the model and details, and roughly 120 hours of printing, I'm happy to finally have a nice display-worthy sized model of this ship.

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The original red version was a little under seven inches long, so I scaled this one up 50%, and it comes out to just about ten inches. Game stats say that's about 1/125 scale, but I think that number was inflated, since I think a 1/100 scale cockpit would fit easily in the nose. Maybe the next version will have a full cockpit, if I can get a vacuformed canopy made. I'd love to shoot for a 1/48 version.

Details are all taken as best as I can grab them from the highest resolution images of the Excalibur I could find, either from Victory Streak, or screenshots. One thing that did give me a few fits though.. I cannot for the life of me figure out exactly how the reaper cannons are supposed to be shaped. The tachyons are clearly visible in the CGI renders we have, and I've approximated the shape to make it printable. The reapers actually look like a tri-barreled design in the front schematic view, with a small shield on the inner side, so that's what I went with.
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Parts all slide together with a satisfying squeak from the printed ridges rubbing in the plastic. I'm currently starting the process of sanding some of the parts down to remove the print texturing, and hope to have that done sometime in this decade. 🤣

While I did upload this model at Shapeways as a test, I cannot recommend getting it there in this size, because it looks like the full print would cost somewhere in the range of $300-$600 total, depending on the material used.

I'm currently debating whether to re-engineer the model with deeper recesses in the spots that contain darker detail panels, so I can make some panel inserts there. I might be able to print something to fit in them now, since the printer can go down to 0.1mm, but the insets are only about 1mm deep. I'm just not sure if I want to go through the process of printing another to make any improvements at this point.

All in all, I think the whole thing came out really close to the target. :D
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Will try and keep more progress updates coming here, as well as where you can get the actual model for download, once I get it where I like it.

Also, one funny tidbit I discovered while researching this.. the Excalibur CGI model used in the Kilrathi Saga intro cinematic was incomplete. It's entirely missing the reaper cannons, and the door panels over the front pods (what I assume are missile bays).
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Awwww yes, what an absolute beauty!

You say this is based on a Shapeways model? Did you make any modifications to it? I'm curious as to the original source for the model. It looks spot on from every angle compared to the cinematic high detail model.
Oh, the Shapeways one was just an earlier version of this same model that I uploaded almost ten years ago now. That one had no panel lines, and really rough details for the engines and guns, so those are all new.

The model itself is a project going on about twenty years for me at this point. I started it in high school as a mod for one of the X-Wing games, built entirely off of the schematic views in in the WC3 manual, and gradually refined it over that time with little tweaks and corrections as I found more materials, and went through screenshotting the in-game movies. One of the promo images in the library here was really helpful for some of the underside details.
Awesome! I used that same set of WC3 manual drawings for my Hellcat model. Excalibur is just such a gorgeous design.
The model itself is a project going on about twenty years for me at this point. I started it in high school as a mod for one of the X-Wing games, built entirely off of the schematic views in in the WC3 manual, and gradually refined it over that time with little tweaks and corrections as I found more materials, and went through screenshotting the in-game movies. One of the promo images in the library here was really helpful for some of the underside details.
Next question: Could I bother you for a set of drawings or 3D files? This would be the perfect template for reworking my balsa wood Excalibur.
Next question: Could I bother you for a set of drawings or 3D files? This would be the perfect template for reworking my balsa wood Excalibur.
The 3D model is currently a mess of assembly structures and supports, but drawings I can absolutely do. :D Fully orthogonal, instead of those odd perspective renders we've had for so long.



The second side view has the near tail and missile bay moved and flipped around to show their backsides, and give a clear view of the rest of the ship behind them, with the back engine bank moved down to show the inner surface. No markings yet, and I don't have the details built for the darker access panel areas, but those aren't hard to pull from the old pictures we already have.

As an FYI, there are two things I think aren't quite accurate. First, the CGI model seems to pinch the tails narrower at top and bottom. I've just kept the leading and trailing edges as flat quadrilaterals, since a twist would have just been harder to sand smooth. Second, I am not sure if the panel lines on the tails are right, but that's the best I can make out with the stripes covering so much in the originals.
Not just yet, been partly busy with other projects and some vacation time, and still need to build up the detail panels. I might not print them myself, but I want to fix them so they're a part of the model, rather than the current blank spots.

I did manage to print a stand for it in the meantime though, which was a quickie I did at lower resolution, and it resulted in a little bit of a rough finish, but it's enough to tell it's a good design.

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I should be getting the details started sometime after Memorial day, so will try and get some updates here soon.😊
Sorry for the long hiatus, my printer has been dedicated to building components for an F-14 simulator cockpit for a while. 😁

I have been busy revisiting this design though, and decided to finally dig in and rebuild the blank sections, add a simple cockpit, and print a slightly larger scale one.

Good progress being made, but the print times have scaled up along with the size, and I'm waiting for the weekend to print the engine modules, since they'll take 24 hours each. The fuselage and wings were both about 36 hour prints.

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After experimenting with the cockpit dimensions though, I'm calling BS on the "canon" dimensions of the ship. Original materials always state this thing was 32m long (about 105 ft) which is absolutely huge. I was intending to make this new version in 1/100 scale, making it 32cm long, but after building the cockpit seat and testing what size pilot would fit, the cockpit was actually the perfect size for a 1/72 scale pilot from a model aircraft.

So, I'm calling this 1/72, and the ship should be about 23 meters, or 75 feet, which seems a lot more reasonable based on how it appears in the game. The larger scale has had a few benefits as well, since I was able to print finer details on the cannons. The whole thing would probably be better served by a liquid resin printer though.

I'm currently debating whether I want to sell the model on one of the CG sites I've been using recently, just to help cover the costs of all the plastic I'm going through, but we'll see how it goes.
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1:72 would be very close to the 1:76 UK OO model railway scale. It might be incongruous but I'd be interested I'm buying stl files to print.
Progress update, all the parts are printed, and I think at least the digital part of the model is something I can call "done" after about 20 years.

The big upgrades for this were mainly the larger size and the cockpit, but the larger scale made a lot of smaller details possible that wouldn't have shown up on my smaller models if I had tried to print them. I do think the model will be better if using a liquid resin printer, but I'm very happy with how well the ABS turned out.
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One of the biggest things I changed were all the greeblie panels. I did my best to estimate how they were supposed to look from the Victory Streak diagrams, but I realized that many of the panels were just random mechanical-looking stock textures. The ones on the top and bottom of the fuselage and engines were the most detailed, but the side panels tended to just be dark panels of little smaller panels, so I did my best to follow the general feeling of them.

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The last experiment I did tonight was testing whether I can make a clear canopy for it. I don't have a vacuform machine (though I might invest in one), but I was able to print myself a two piece mold. With that made, I heated a piece of plastic packaging over a space heater for a few moments, and then pressed it between the mold halves, and clamped it. When it cooled, I had a fairly decent clear canopy to trim and use, though it's still a little rough, and has a few scratches and wrinkles. I might try a few more attempts later, since the material came from my recycling bin, and I have a ton of it.

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I am considering selling this model for printing eventually, but I do want to offer it freely here for people to try it out first, and give me feedback about anything that might need changing to print more easily. One thing I'm very aware of is that this model started very small, and got almost twice as big, so the model is heavier than it needs to be, and uses more material than necessary. The structures are really thick and sturdy at this size, because the original model was only 7 inches long.

Right now, I have the model broken into segments that separate the outer shells from the inner structure, since that made it the easiest to build the internal walls. If I can find a way to distribute the model in this format, it will allow for easier adjustment of the wall thicknesses.

As it is now though, I think my original 7-10 inch size is probably ideal for printing with all of the new details on a resin printer. It needs to be bigger for an FDM printer to pick up all of the greeblies, which is why I made this newer one, but I didn't change the internal wall thicknesses at all, and it uses quite a lot of plastic.

All told, the parts for this print took almost 200 hours with a 0.1mm layer height (not counting the stand), and used about 700g of material, or roughly 1.5 lbs. There was a fair amount of plastic expended in support structures to keep the prints steady, but even then, the model is substantial, and feels easily over a pound. My printer is pretty old now though, and newer ones can go much faster, probably cutting the print time down substantially. Many of the components for this took over a day to print.

Once I get the model in a presentable format, I'll post it here for download for a little while, and let people take a shot at it. I'll probably give it out for free here until the end of the year, and then put it up for sale after that.
You can pretty much print anything you can model, with some structural and mechanical considerations for the printing method.

Liquid resin printers are much better at producing high fidelity prints at smaller sizes, and generally produce better models like this, which come out needing almost no clean-up. Filament spool printers like mine are better for large-scale construction, and produce rougher models, but they can print in sturdier materials. I stick with filament printers for a couple reasons, mainly that I don't care for the fumes and curing process of the liquid resin, and that I can make much bigger, rugged prints in ABS, like costume props or the instrument components I'm making for a flight simulator cockpit I'm building.

This model started off as something for a game, and I gradually added the details. The model itself was very simple, and all the detail was made with textures. It's come a really long way since.. oh, around 2001. 🤣 Fun fact, the original one on the left is about 1,300 polygons, while the printing model clocks in at about 101,000.
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One thing I did do was add a bunch of manual support structures to help the print succeed. I did it to preserve the edges on the faces against the build plate, and to give taller parts support as they printed, but that may or may not be necessary based on the capabilities of individual printers. It added significantly to the amount of cleanup, but the supports were very thin, so they didn't use much plastic.
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I'm working on putting things together into a build package now for anyone here to test if they want. The above image shows my mesh division, and it's a little odd, because I built the model in 3DS Max, and it doesn't have features like a typical manufacturing CAD program, which would allow you to adjust features like panel lines after they're made. It also doesn't allow for easy definition of thickness, so I kept the interior walls of the model (in red) separate from the exterior surfaces (blue) to make them easier to edit. If I distribute this in STL format, that distinction will likely be lost, but it won't stop you from printing the model as shown.

I think the only thing I didn't wind up making was landing gear for it, but it wouldn't be hard to add swappable gear, so I could do it if someone really wants. For the front gear I'd just need to recess the gear bay, and make two plugs, one with closed doors, and one that's open with the extended gear. The rear wheels look like they just pop out of the bottom edge of the lower fins. I think there's a door that opens on the inside of the fins to let a small strut extend inward, and that wouldn't be hard to add since the tails are pretty simple. I could just make a rectangular plug that would swap out a center section of the fin for spread doors and a wheel sticking down.

Anyone who wants to give it a shot, either with a resin or FDM printer at any scale, let me know what you'd prefer, and I can export what you need.

I really want to build up a couple more fighters to print, but I feel like I should learn some actual CAD software to use instead of the insane process I used to build this. All of the panel lines were cut by making panel line meshes, and cutting them directly into the model via boolean operations. I would much rather be able to just let the software automatically engrave the lines into the surface.
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