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Pegasus Hobbies The Nautilus

By Tim Kidwell
Published: March 14, 2014
Pegasus Hobbies The Nautilus
Product: Pegasus Hobbies has a talent for picking interesting subjects for plastic model kits. It’s hit on something special with the 1:144-scale Nautilus, inspired by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Ever since Disney’s 1954 film adaptation, modelers have wanted an affordable mass-market kit of Capt. Nemo’s devilishly ingenious submarine in all its overwrought Victorian glory. Alas, it was not meant to be — until now.

Pegasus’ Nautilus, designed by artist Greg deSantis, comes in a minimal number of parts spread across nine sprues molded predominantly in soft, gray plastic. A plastic bag and foam wrapping protect the single sprue of jewel-bright clear parts. A photo-etched metal fret provides railings, stairs and guy wires.

The kit provides a fantastic interior for Nemo’s salon, including a double-sided Victorian couch, a globe, a writing desk and, of course, a pipe organ. As the instructions suggest, I began with the salon and spent a good chunk of time hand-painting the details. I needn’t have bothered, though. Once the salon’s bulkheads and ceiling were in place, practically all of my work beyond the couch was lost in shadow inside the submarine.

Make sure to paint the areas of parts F4 and F6 that abut the great salon windows ­— they are in full view. I used Vallejo ghost gray to brighten the interior a bit.

Four parts make up the bulk of the ship’s hull. After attaching the salon firmly to the sub’s belly quarter, I press-fitted the salon windows into the starboard and port hull sections. The attachments didn’t require any glue, though using a bit of clear parts cement is a wiser choice.

The exterior detail boasts as many rivets, slab-sided panels, recesses, access hatches and inexplicable spinner-bazooms as any steampunk junkie could ask for without losing the boat’s otherworldly seaborne lines. Where the prow and stern come together is some of the finest molding I’ve seen. After making sure that the great port window lined up with the salon, I glued the port hull piece (A2) to the belly with Tamiya thin liquid cement, slowly working aft. I repeated the process with the starboard section (A1). Concerned about the strength of the join, I ran a narrow bead of super glue along the interior of each. Parts B2 and C3 closed up the hull, forming the deck and bridge.

When removing the propeller (F5) from the sprue, snip as far away from the blades as possible. They’re fine and mar easily. The propeller hub fits snugly without glue, allowing the prop to spin.

The instructions add photo-etched details along with the rest of the exterior details. I waited until I was ready to add the ram to the prow (parts H8 and E4), which required photo-etched metal guy wires to complete, before adding the rest.

The guy wires provide nice detail but are too long up front to get good and taut. Also, the wire and strain insulators are flat. Were I to do it again, I would use the guy-wire anchors at each end and run either monofilament or EZ Line between them. Small beads or balls of thick glue would serve well as insulators.

Perhaps the most daunting challenge of building the Nautilus is finishing the various glass panes of the enormous salon windows. Pegasus provides masks, but they were ill-fitting and a bit thick. Also, there were no masks for the tiniest glass triangles; instead, I used liquid mask. However, despite my most careful efforts, much of the paint, particularly along the rounded glass edges, came up. I went back and hand-finished the windows with a fine-tipped brush.

The Nautilus’ spectacular stand comes in 13 vinyl parts, including the base. The squid’s tentacles are keyed, so there is little chance to attach them in the wrong place. I used super glue on the stand. Slight mold lines cleaned up easily with the back of a hobby knife, and Kneadatite Green Stuff two-part epoxy putty filled the seams at the base of the tentacles. A little Green Stuff goes a long way: It doesn’t shrink and sculpts easily. There’s no attachment point for the nameplate, so I used two short lengths of a paperclip to pin it to the base.

Marketing: The Nautilus was a thoroughly enjoyable build. I spent just shy of 40 hours on it (mostly because I’m a slow builder). I’d recommend it to anyone who has built a few kits, and it’s an excellent introduction to working with photo-etched metal.

The stairs are the most difficult to model of the metal parts but, with patience, can be sussed out. The included masks are not ideal but usable, and the raised window casings provide plenty of guidance for patient touch-ups.